Inglewood, CA — After taking the lives of Kisha Michael, 31, and Marquintan Sandlin, 32, who had fallen asleep in their car while on a date, the five officers who fired the 20 rounds into the car have been removed from the department.
The announcement from Mayor James T. Butts on Tuesday marked the end of an internal probe stemming from the killing of the couple on Feb 21, 2016. Despite their removal from the department, the punishment they received, if any, remains entirely secret.
“The officers involved in the incident are no longer members of the Inglewood Police Department,” Butts said in his statement. “The department’s report and any discipline that results from the report are confidential.”
The mayor’s spokeswoman, Jasmyne Cannick, later said that the five officers were “separated from service” after firing their weapons during the encounter with Sandlin and Michael, reports the LA Times.
Despite the city and the department refusing to release the names of the officers who killed a couple for sleeping in their car, a public records request identified the officers involved in the shooting as Michael Jaen, Richard Parcella, Jason Cantrell, Sean Reidy and Andrew Cohen.
Although police tried to make this an open and shut case after they killed the couple, the Mayor let slip a major detail in the shooting — the couple was unconscious.
For at least 45 minutes, police attempted "to rouse" them in an effort "to de-escalate the situation," said Butts.
After admitting that the couple was asleep, Butts quickly defended the officers, noting, "Obviously at some point they were conscious because somebody felt threatened."
However, that notion has yet to be proven and is particularly unlikely due to the fact that not a single officer received so much as a scratch, nor did the couple have any reason to be violent, nor has there been any evidence presented at all showing that the couple fired or even pointed a gun.
Michael's twin sister Trisha stated the obvious after the shooting when she said that it's possible that Kisha merely passed out on the way home from their night out. After reviewing the autopsy results, this seems like the most plausible scenario. The couple was likely too drunk to drive, so they pulled over and went to sleep. Not wanting to be robbed, Michael had a gun on her lap for protection and police, trained to fear for their lives, escalated the benign situation to a deadly one — simple as that.
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Of course, as is standard procedure for all those killed by police, their arrest records were released to shame them. Michael was on probation for a misdemeanor last year, and 7 years ago, Sandlin was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm in Los Angeles.
However, the reality is that Sandlin was a gainfully employed truck driver who'd turned his life around. And, both of the victims were parents; Michael, a single mother of three sons, and Sandlin, a single father of four daughters. Families for both described them as devoted parents who made arrangements for care of their children while they took a night off, according to NBC Los Angeles.
"He was a loving father," said Sandlin's sister Leandra Faulkner. "All he cared about was his girls, getting them right."
Although more than a year has passed since that fateful night, the police have refused to release any details. The news of the officers no longer being on the force is the first bit of progress the families of the victims have seen since this nightmare began.
“Finally, finally. Some kind of justice for them,” said Trisha Michael, the twin sister of Kisha Michael. “To hear that these officers are off these streets verifies everything that I’ve been feeling and everything I’ve been standing up for.”
As the Times reports, attorney Milton Grimes, who is representing Michael’s family in a civil lawsuit filed against the city, said the news that the officers no longer work for the department shows that the shooting was “out of policy” and an “unconstitutional, bad shooting.”
“For the city to come out now and say these officers are no longer employed with the Inglewood Police Department is an admission of guilt to me,” Grimes said. Still, he was concerned over the lack of information about what led to the shooting, notes the Times.
“I cannot settle this case until I can tell this mother how and why her daughter was shot 13 times. [We] still have not gotten that information yet,” Grimes said. “But we’re getting closer. I can feel it.”
Melina Abdullah, a Cal State Los Angeles professor and organizer with Black Lives Matter, said the officers’ dismissal provides a “huge victory” in the quest for justice in the shooting death of Michael and Sandlin, according to the Times.
“It gives some satisfaction to the family that something is moving,” Abdullah said. “We will never get justice unless we transform things so nothing like this ever happens again. And that’s a long road but we have to celebrate the small victories along the way.”