Both the man and woman who were mortally wounded during an officer involved shooting were unconscious when Inglewood police first responded to where they were sitting in a car, said Inglewood Mayor James Butts Tuesday in response to questions about the incident.
For at least 45 minutes, police attempted "to rouse" them in an effort "to de-escalate the situation," said Butts. It is the first public explanation for what transpired early Sunday morning during the time between the initial call and the shooting. Police previously had stated responding officers saw the woman had a gun, retreated to behind cover, and then gave orders for the couple to exit the vehicle.
"Obviously at some point they were conscious because somebody felt threatened," said Butts, a retired law enforcement officer who previously had served as police chief in other cities. He said it is important for police to finish their investigation, and verify facts, before commenting further.
During his comments, Mayor Butts made a point of extending his condolences to the families of those who died.
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"It's more tragic because they had children," Butts said.
The deceased have been identified by family members as Kisha Michael, 31, a single mother of three sons, and Marquintan Sandlin, 32, a single father of four daughters.
Michael's twin sister Trisha has said it is possible that returning home after a night out, Kisha may have passed out in the car.
Police have made no comment on what specific threat officers perceived.
The families have demanded explanations and expressed frustration.
"The police ain't telling us nothing," said Trisha Michael.
Families for both described them as devoted parents who made arrangements for care of their children while they took a night off.
Sandlin had a 2009 conviction for unlawful possession of a loaded firearm in public, according to Los Angeles Superior Court records. Relatives said he had a "rough life," but had made great strides and was working again as a truck driver.
"He was a loving father," said Sandlin's sister Leandra Faulkner. "All he cared about was his girls, getting them right."
They had moved to the high desert city of Victorville, but returned to Los Angeles to visit family and friends, according to cousin Latoya Simmons.
"He moved out of LA to get away from all this nonsense," Simmons said.
Kisha Michael was on probation for a misdemeanor theft last year, court records show. Her probation was revoked for a failure to appear in court earlier this month, and on Feb. 11, a bench warrant was issued for her arrest.
In a police radio transmission moments after the shooting, an officer can be heard saying the woman had a gun in her right hand.
Why either would have had a gun, family members said they did not know. But they believe law enforcement should have been able to handle the situation without resorting to deadly force.
"They have crisis counselors, tear gas, bean bags," said community activist pastor Eddie Jones. "All kinds of things besides deadly force."
It was evident from shell casings at the scene that military grade rifles had been fired.
"I know weapons, I know that sound," said Alfonso Parker, Jr. who described himself as a Vietnam War veteran, and said he could hear the shots from his home. "You don't use that crap on your own people."