About 35 people gathered in Culver City on Saturday afternoon to decry the fatal police shooting of a robbery suspect in Palms in April.
The killing of Lejoy Grissom drew attention after an eyewitness disputed the police account that the 27-year-old reached for his waist, saying instead that he was shot with his arms held high.
Culver City police stopped Grissom's car because he matched the description of an armed man who had just robbed an electronics store. Grissom and his sister, who was driving, were ordered to get out. Despite commands to keep his hands up, authorities said, Grissom reached for his waist, prompting police to shoot.
Authorities said they found a chrome handgun at the scene. But, according to published reports, an attorney who witnessed the shooting said Grissom never moved his hands down.
Layla Grissom was charged with two counts of second-degree robbery and one count of kidnapping.
Many people at the meeting were disappointed that no one from the Culver City Police Department attended, despite invitations.
"It's a total disrespect to the community," said Royce Esters of the Compton-based National Assn. for Equal Justice in America, which held the event.
Police Lt. Allen Azran said in an interview Saturday that department officials decided not to attend because of an ongoing investigation that is being conducted by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
"If we attend, we're not really going to have a lot to say," he said. "If we go, it looks worse because we have to say 'no comment, no comment,' so we elected not to attend."
Azran said the department has offered to meet with event organizers in a smaller setting in the future.
Those who attended the meeting were frustrated.
Edward Mills, 60, sat in a wheelchair outside the meeting, which was held at the Elks Lodge, quietly listing African Americans who police had killed during his life.
"It just goes on and on," said the South Los Angeles resident. "We need to make one of them walls like the Vietnam War memorial the way they're killing black people."
Another attendee, Stanley Ewell, 62, said he attended because he believed police shootings would become more frequent in the Culver City area if locals remained quiet.
"We have to nip this in the bud," the Compton resident said. "We don't pay taxes for this. It makes me feel hypocritical to put my hand over my heart and pledge allegiance to the flag."
Law enforcement officers have killed at least two people in Palms and Culver City since January 2007, according to coroner's data collected by The Times.