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FBI opens investigation of shooting by Inglewood Police Department

It is at least the third ongoing investigation into the department's use of deadly force, joining those by the Department of Justice and L.A. County.

July 07, 2009|Ari B. Bloomekatz

The FBI has opened a criminal investigation into the Inglewood Police Department's fatal shooting of 31-year-old Marcus Smith in May.

The criminal probe, which was announced by the city in late June, is at least the third ongoing investigation into the department's use of deadly force. The FBI confirmed that it had opened the investigation, but would not discuss it.

The civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington is already looking into the department's patterns and practices. The Los Angeles County Office of Independent Review, which monitors the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, is also looking at the Inglewood department's training, supervision, policies and protocol at the city's request.

The department was the subject of several community protests last year after a spate of officer-involved shootings resulted in four fatalities between May and September. A Times investigation last year found that since 2003, five of 11 people shot and killed by Inglewood police were unarmed.

In a statement released June 25, Inglewood Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks said the May 17 shooting was being investigated by the L.A. County district attorney's office as well as separate internal criminal and administrative investigations. She said her department will cooperate with all aspects of the FBI's investigation.

"We are confident the FBI review will validate facts already made public about the incident, including our initial findings that Mr. Smith was armed and pointed his handgun at officers, resulting in the fatal shooting," Seabrooks said.

Some witnesses dispute the police account of what happened. They say Smith did not brandish a weapon.

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ari.bloomekatz@latimes.com

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