Crime & Justice

Confidential report yields new details on fatal Inglewood police shooting

An activist holds up a pictures of Kisha Michael, left, and Marquintan Sandlin. Inglewood Police have yet to explain why they fatally shot the two.
An activist holds up a pictures of Kisha Michael, left, and Marquintan Sandlin. Inglewood Police have yet to explain why they fatally shot the two.
Frank Stoltze/KPCC

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An incident report on the fatal shooting of a man and woman by Inglewood police last year reveals that officers took extraordinary measures to try to awaken them after finding them unconscious inside their car. But the document does not explain the circumstances that led police to open fire on the pair, because the officer who wrote the report was not at the scene when the shooting occurred.

The confidential three-and-a-half page "Crime Report" obtained by KPCC says officers came upon Kisha Michael and Marquintan Sandlin in a Chevy Malibu at the intersection of Manchester Blvd. and Inglewood Ave. shortly after 3 a.m. on Feb. 21, 2016.

Although the two were unconscious, officers backed off after they determined that Michael had a handgun in her lap, the report says. It describes how police parked four patrol cars right next to the Malibu to box it in, and then tried using flashing lights, an airhorn and blaring sirens to rouse the two, without success.

Finally, one officer tried to wake them up using his patrol car, according to the report, whose author's name is blacked out on the document.

"Officer Parcella made contact with the rear bumper of the suspect vehicle several times, but was met with negative results," the report says.

Eventually, officers opened fire. Michael, 31, was hit 13 times and died at the scene. Sandlin, 32, was struck twice and died later at a hospital. But the incident report only describes the aftermath of the shooting, because the author had left the scene with a second officer to assist on another call.

On their way back to the intersection, the officers heard over the radio that their colleagues had opened fire on the two people in the car.

"While en route, Sergeant [name redacted] advised [Inglewood Police Department] communications that an Officer Involved Shooting had occurred," the report states. 

It goes on to say that when the author returned to the scene, he saw "a black armored vehicle (SWAT Bearcat) positioned directly behind the suspect vehicle," replacing the patrol car that was there before.

Sandlin was lying on his back approximately 15 feet directly behind the Malibu, according to the report. Paramedics were working to revive him.

Michael was lying approximately one foot to the north, or passenger side, of the Malibu, also under treatment by paramedics.

The Inglewood Police Department did not return calls seeking comment on the report.

Michael was the mother of three boys. Sandlin was the father of four boys. They were out on a date, according to family members.

Ever since the shooting, the Inglewood PD has declined to say what triggered the fatal encounter. That's not the approach taken by the LAPD, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department and most smaller agencies in Southern California, which provide within a few days of a shooting at least a preliminary summary of why officers fired on a suspect – with the caveat that a more thorough investigation might reveal something different.

The Inglewood Police Department issued this statement after the shooting, and has said little else since:

"Upon arrival, the officers observed the female occupant was in the possession of a firearm. The officers then took a position of cover and ordered the occupants to exit the vehicle. An officer involved shooting then occurred."

It’s unclear if Michael and Sandlin were asleep or passed out when officers first came upon them. Both had blood alcohol levels over the legal driving limit and Michael had trace amounts of methamphetamine, according to the coroner’s autopsies.

The author of the report and his or her partner noted something else when they returned to the scene:

"We observed Officers S[ean]. Reidy, A[ndrew]. Cohen, M[ichael]. Jaen, [Richard] Parcella, [Jason] Cantrell and Sergeant [name redacted] standing in the parking lot of 345 W. Manchester (7-Eleven)."

This week, Inglewood Mayor James Butts announced that all five of the officers in that group are no longer members of the department. He would not say whether the officers were fired or they left of their own accord, citing California’s police privacy laws.

The Inglewood PD's Internal Affairs Division has conducted a thorough review of the shooting, according to the department. But Butts said that report remains confidential.

The attorney representing Michael's mother and three children said he’s anxious to see that review, arguing that he's entitled to it because the family has filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit against the city and the police department.

"We still don’t know why she was shot," said Attorney Milton Grimes, who represented Rodney King when he sued the LAPD after his videotaped beating in 1991.

The city has indicated its willing to settle the suit, said Grimes, but Michael’s mother is uninterested until she gets more answers.

"Before we resolve this case, we need to know what happened," Grimes said.

The L.A. County District Attorney's office is investigating the incident, as it does with all officer-involved shootings in the county. The DA will determine whether the officers acted criminally and should be prosecuted.