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Inglewood police probe leaves sleeping couple killing unsolved

Sandlin, 32, a father of four girls; and Michael, 31, a mother of three boys, were seemingly executed on that fateful morning of Feb. 21, 2016

Compton Herald | Inglewood police
Kisha Michael, Marquintan Sandlin family photos

Perspective: Other than dismissal of 5 cops who killed pair in 2016, a 15-month-long Inglewood police internal investigation yields zilch

A 15-month Inglewood Police Department internal probe into the sensational slayings of Marquintan Sandlin and Kisha Michael as they slept in a parked car in the wee hours minutes after 3 a.m. in Inglewood, Calif. on Feb. 21, 2016, still leaves a gaping void into why officers, minus a threat, used deadly force against the pair.

Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts announced, June 2, that five police officers are no longer with the city after the conclusion of an investigation into their actions firing a volley of bullets riddling the vehicle, killing Michael instantly, and Sandlin, who later succumbed at an area hospital.

The incident is still cloaked in secrecy, as no specifics were given as to culpability by the IPD, and whether the officers — previously identified by the City as Michael Jaen, Richard Parcella, Jason Cantrell, Sean Reidy, and Andrew Cohen — were fired or resigned.

“The officers involved in the incident are no longer members of the Inglewood Police Department. The department’s report and any discipline that results from the report are confidential,” is all Butts, a former police officer with the city, would relinquish.

That’s not what the surviving family members of Sandlin and Michael expected, and frankly, it’s not what the Compton Herald, expected.

Trisha Michael, the twin sister of Kisha Michael said, “To hear that these officers are off these streets verifies everything that I’ve been feeling and everything I’ve been standing up for.”

But Trisha told a daily newspaper she still has questions why her sister was shot 13 times without provocation.

We want to know the answer to the use of overwhelming deadly force, as well — why Sandlin, 32, a father of four girls; and Michael, 31, a mother of three boys, were seemingly executed on that fateful morning.

Speculation that the couple, who family members said were on a date, parked on Manchester Boulevard at Inglewood Avenue near a convenience store shortly after 3 a.m. to sleep off the effects of alcohol, seem plausible.

Police were called to the scene by an unidentified person who noticed the couple asleep or otherwise unconscious. A previous police statement reveals officers approached Michael and Sandlin on Manchester Boulevard, and that they appeared “unconscious.” The statement also included that, Michael, who sat in the passenger seat, “had a gun on her lap.”

An incident report reveals that officers said they took “extraordinary measures” to try to awaken them after finding them unconscious inside their car, but that remains one-sided, and clearly would not have constituted a threat to officers, though there is another claim that there was some kind of “unknown exchange” between the cops and victims — also one-sided.

The police report never claimed Michael or Sandlin pointed the handgun at them, further stoking the mystery of what precipitated the deadly barrage of gunfire.

According to a Los Angeles County Coroner autopsy report, Michael’s blood-alcohol content was 0.185 percent, more than twice the legal limit for driving. Traces of methamphetamine also were found in her blood.

Sandlin’s blood-alcohol content was 0.13 percent, over the legal driving limit. No drugs were found in his system.

The blood-alcohol, meth levels may account for Sandlin and Michael’s unconsciousness — but it doesn’t account for the police use of force.

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office is continuing to investigate 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.

Perhaps, we can still know what prompted the onslaught by the ex-officers of the Inglewood Police Department, which must bear full responsibility for the grisly slayings.

Death sentences are still left to the courts — not overzealous, jittery cops. But all too often the converse happens, inexplicably in Black and Brown communities in the U.S.

The DA must now exercise due diligence to prosecute each of the five officers negligible in the abuse of power in the deaths of Sandlin and Michael, then found guilty in a court of law, and accorded just and commensurate punishment under the law.

Jarrette Fellows, Jr. is Publisher and Editor of Compton Herald. He attended junior and senior high school in Compton, and is an alumnus of California State University, Los Angeles.

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