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Inglewood police break silence

Seven officers are put on leave after four people, including a homeless man with a toy gun, are killed.

September 05, 2008|Andrew Blankstein and Ari B. Bloomekatz | Times Staff Writers

On July 21, police shot and killed Kevin Wicks, 38. Police said Wicks raised a gun at Officer Brian Ragan, who was responding to a report of a family disturbance at Wicks' apartment complex. Ragan was one of two officers involved in the Byoune shooting.

The string of shootings has led the state's Legislative Black Caucus to ask state Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown to investigate the Inglewood Police Department.

A spokesman for Brown's office said the attorney general would wait until the district attorney and Office of Independent Review were finished with their probes before making a decision to investigate.

Meanwhile Thursday, Franco's older brother said in a telephone interview that he was in disbelief and angry about the shooting. "We lost track of him a year ago," said Arthur Franco. "We were hoping he wasn't lying dead in the desert."

Franco said his brother had been living on the streets since 1996. But before that he had been married and had worked for a telephone company for 12 years. He was a father of four children.

He said his brother had struggled with alcoholism and drug use and was often in and out of rehab centers, as well as jails near the Coachella Valley. Franco said family members took turns trying to take care of him, but in the end, Eddie Franco liked staying outside.

Family members said it wasn't unusual for him to be away for a long period of time, but said this particular time it had been too long.

"We were about to file a missing-persons report," Franco said. "Then we learned about his death."

Franco said he had been watching the news about the Inglewood police shooting but didn't think anything of it, other than the police had been involved in the fourth shooting. Tuesday afternoon he said a relative called him to say that his younger brother had been shot by police officers.

"We understand he had a toy gun and police had to do what they had to do," Franco said. "Still, he was drunk. How was he going to injure anybody?"

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andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

ari.bloomekatz@latimes.com

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Times reporters Jack Leonard and Ruben Vives contributed to this report.

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