Prosecutors confirmed Wednesday that the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office decided it could not bring criminal charges against five former Inglewood Police Department officers -- who shot to death a man and woman initially found asleep or unconscious in a parked car.
The DA's decision, issued more than 5 years after the February 21, 2016 killings of Kisha Michael and Marquintan Sandlin said, "we have concluded that there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers' use of deadly force was unlawful."
The 36 page memo from the DA's office that detailed its review of the officers' actions noted that the Inglewood Police Department's investigation of the killings was, "incomplete," but said that the physical evidence in the case largely corroborated the accounts the five shooting officers gave to investigators: that they were fearful either Michael or Sandlin would use the handgun in the car to fire at police.
The DA's decision was finalized on March 31, 2022, approximately 6 weeks after the statute of limitations for a possible charge of manslaughter expired, though no consideration of a criminal charge was included in the DA's memo.
There was no answer at Inglewood PD when NBC4 called for comment today, yesterday, and last week, and the voicemail for the department's spokesperson was full and not accepting messages.
The five Inglewood officers involved were fired, according to the City of Inglewood, which paid an $8.6-million legal settlement to the Michael and Sandlin families.
The fired ex-officers -- Jason Cantrell, Sean Reidy, Andrew Cohen, Michael Jaen, and Richard Parcella -- are suing for wrongful termination and retaliation, alleging they were the victims of racial discrimination when they were fired. That case is still in a pretrial phase and has a tentative jury trial set for January, 2023, according to court records.
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Their attorney did not immediately return a call for comment.
According to court filings in the wrongful termination case and the DA's analysis, the officers were called to the car, a Chevy Malibu that was parked on Manchester Blvd., by a pedestrian, and police surrounded the vehicle after they saw the couple asleep or unconscious inside and a handgun on Michael's leg or lap.
Officers said they used their sirens, air horns, and flashing lights to try to wake the two, and later bumped the car with an armored truck.
At some point, according to court records in the officers' lawsuit, Sandlin woke and was ordered out of the car. Officers shot him in the head and shoulder with a shotgun and he died at a hospital.
Michael was struck 13 times and was pronounced dead at the scene.
DA George Gascon sent NBC4 the following statement about the decision in the Inglewood case and a second decision not to charge Pasadena Police officers in a 2020 shooting:
"As the public now knows, today our office informed the families of Marquintan Sandlin, Kisha Michael and Anthony McClain that we could not prosecute the police officers who took the lives of their loved ones. We know this is excruciating and that the families are understandably devastated. We also understand that the public has questions, but out of respect for the families, we wanted to meet with them first and give them time to process this difficult information. We do want to be clear: the burden of proof for prosecution is high. Our decision does not mean that what happened is right."
Here's a link to the DA decision in the Inglewood case.
Here's a link to the DA decision in the Pasadena case of Anthony McClain.