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Man slain by Inglewood police

It is the fourth fatal officer-involved shooting in 4 months.

September 01, 2008|Ari B. Bloomekatz, Carol J. Williams and Andrew Blankstein | Times Staff Writers

Inglewood Police Department officers shot a man to death Sunday afternoon after receiving a report he had a gun, authorities said.

It was the fourth officer-involved shooting in Inglewood in as many months.

A second person was hit by a stray bullet in his car and was taken to a hospital, but that person's condition was not immediately known.

Inglewood Police Lt. Gabriela Garcia said late Sunday that many officers responded to a report of a man with a gun on South Market Street at 1:47 p.m.

Arriving officers found two men, one with what appeared to be a gun tucked into his waistband. Officers ordered the men to put their hands up; one complied, Garcia said, but the one with the apparent gun did not.

Police tried to subdue him with a nonlethal "beanbag" round but fired their guns when he reached toward his waistband. The gun turned out to be a replica silver handgun, Garcia said. Police also shot and killed a dog that was with the two men.

On Sunday afternoon, in the cordoned-off shooting scene halfway between East Hillcrest Boulevard and South La Brea Avenue, there were two shopping carts filled with bags and clothing surrounded by police cars. A few hundred feet south was a silver Honda that had a crack in its windshield.

The slain man, believed to be homeless, was pronounced dead at 2:50 p.m. at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center near Torrance, said Jerry McKibben, an investigator with the county coroner's office.

Inglewood Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks appeared at the cordoned-off incident scene and was seen talking with city officials and police.

Rodney Phillips, 40, who works at Woody's Bar-B-Que on South Market Street at South La Brea Avenue, said he called police . because he saw a man with a gun.

"I feel bad because I called the police," he said.

Phillips said he was taking a phone order for a $100 large party platter when a man with no shirt on leaned on a railing outside the restaurant. Phillips said he saw a gun in the man's waistband.

Phillips dialed 911. Officers arrived before the man, who was with another person and a dog, had walked more than a few hundred feet up the block, Phillips said.

He said officers spent about five to 15 minutes talking to the men, and then he heard gunfire.

The Police Department is being reviewed by the Office of Independent Review, a law enforcement monitor created by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

Michael Gennaco, chief attorney for the office, said the examination of the Police Department would cover training, supervision, policy and protocol.

"We certainly have started to look at the historical cases. This will give us an opportunity to see their procedures in real time," Gennaco said Sunday, acknowledging that an attorney from his office was at the scene of the shooting.

Two Inglewood officers involved in a May 11 shooting that left Michael Byoune, 19, dead and two others wounded, were returned to active duty.

Officers Brian Ragan and Roman Fernandez returned to work a month after the incident, in which they mistakenly believed that the unarmed men were shooting at them, police said at the time.

Two fatal shootings involving Inglewood officers occurred in July. Ruben Walton Ortega, a 23-year-old alleged gang member, was shot and killed July 1, and postal worker Kevin Wicks, 38, died July 21.

Ragan was put back on administrative leave after his involvement in Wicks' shooting death.

The officer told investigators that Wicks had raised a gun against him, but Wicks' family and attorneys have disputed that story.

Byoune's family and the families of the two other men wounded in the May 11 shooting have filed a $25-million lawsuit against the city and department.

Wicks' family has also filed a multimillion-dollar suit.

Wicks' family contended in their complaint that Inglewood officers went to the wrong address in response to a call and that police did not properly identify themselves.

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ari.bloomekatz@latimes.com

carol.williams@latimes.com

andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

Times staff writers Garrett Therolf and Ruben Vives contributed to this report.

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