Inglewood PD Faces Another Fatal Shooting Investigation

Four members of the Inglewood Police Department, which is already under investigation for fatal shootings, were on administrative leave Monday as two probes were under way into the shooting death of a suspect at the site of a birthday party.

The incident, which also left an officer wounded, possibly by friendly fire, began about 12:45 a.m. Sunday when officers were sent to a party in the 800 block of Osage Avenue in response to reports of a fight, according to the Inglewood Police Department.

A man at the site threatened the four officers with a gun, and three of them fired on him, said Lt. Mike McBride of the Inglewood Police Department.

Marcus Smith, 31, of Compton, was fatally shot and died at the scene, according to coroner's Lt. Larry Dietz.

Some witnesses said Smith did not have a gun.

One officer was shot and wounded in the leg, but it was unclear whether he was shot by a partygoer or another officer, McBride said. The officer was transported to a hospital and reported to be in stable condition.The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office is investigating the shooting, and the Inglewood Police Department is conducting separate criminal and administrative investigations, McBride said.

"The important part is that regardless of whether or not he fired the gun, he pointed it at the officers, as confirmed by physical evidence and witness statements," he said.   

Ballistics tests will be made on a semiautomatic gun that was recovered at the scene, he said.

Witnesses told a Newsreel camera crew that officers opened fire on an unarmed man at close range, striking him at least four times in the back, and that an officer was struck by "friendly fire."

Smith's fiancee, Kalonna LaCount, 30, told the Los Angeles Times that she and Smith were leaving the party and that officers in the backyard opened fire on Smith when he stumbled while walking down a staircase. LaCount said she and Smith had three children and had been together for 17 years.

All four officers were put on administrative leave, as is routine in officer-involved shootings, McBride said.

Some partygoers were detained, but none were arrested, he said.

Sunday's incident was the latest for a department already under scrutiny for officer-involved shootings.

In March, the federal Justice Department opened a probe into a series of officer-involved shootings that claimed the lives of three unarmed suspects in Inglewood. The department pledged to fully cooperate with the federal investigation.

Additionally, at the request of the city, the Los Angeles County Office of Independent Review, which monitors the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, is looking into the tactics of Inglewood police.

In November, the department began sending its officers to a mandatory 120-hour course to improve decision-making and tactical responses, with an extra 20 hours required for all personnel above the rank of sergeant, according to McBride. All officers were expected to complete the course by this month.

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