Public comments during Tuesday’s meeting of the Inglewood City Council focused again on two officer-involved shootings which occurred on Feb. 21.
It began on a positive note, however, with commendations being given to Crystal Wells and Lee Denmon.
Wells, who was not present, was recognized for outstanding community service. Denmon serves on the Inglewood Police Oversight Commission in District 1. He was recommended by the Office of Sen. Isadore Hall (37th District).
Mayor James Butts noted Denmon’s “extraordinary service to the 37th District,” and his “numerous contributions to Inglewood’s Police Oversight Commission.” He was called a role model.
Council members approved funds for the City Clerk to hire a part-time office assistant; new uniforms and safety equipment for the Inglewood Police Dept.; and water rights licenses and agreements with the County of Los Angeles, Dept. of Parks and Recreation and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles.
The City is also moving forward with an agreement to reconstruct the two elevators in Parking Structure 2, located at 115 N. Locust Street.
Francisco Garcia, a priest at Holy Faith Episcopal Church, and members of his parish asked the council for updates about the officer-involved shooting deaths of Kisha Michael and Marquintan Sandlin by Inglewood police. “We have questions as to the timeliness and transparency. We want to ask and receive information so we can assure the community that all practices are being followed correctly and openly,” Garcia said.
A woman from the parish, who said she spoke with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Dept., wanted to know if the officers involved are still on active duty.
“No, they are not,” Butts replied.
“You’re sharing that with me now, but it would be really good to share that with the community,” she said.
Another member wants police oversight commissioners present at council meetings to inform people about police matters involving private citizens.
Two weeks ago, a member of Black Lives Matter raised the same issue during the council meeting. Again, Mayor Butts responded:
“It’s been frustrating. People feel we should know right now what happened. The chief has questions. I have questions and the council has questions, but they (officers) are entitled to due process.
He added that authorities are processing evidence which will take months to complete, and “there are dozens of people to be interviewed.”
The oversight commission does not have the authority to delve into an active investigation, Butts said. When the chief of police makes a ruling, and determines whether or not police actions are in line with the department’s policy, and if they are disciplined, then the commission can review and give opinions on the reasonableness of the chief’s decision.
Regarding overall safety, the rate of homicides in Inglewood is at its lowest level since the department began recording statistics.
Donald Stratton, who lives in District 2, complained that the City’s website is slow and information is outdated. “It gives out erroneous information. You read about a meeting and you go there and it’s not there. Nothing is coming back in logical order,” he said.
During closing comments, Councilman George Dotson praised the City’s Public Works Dept. for organizing Inglewood’s 6th Annual Earth Day Celebration, featuring 70’s band Rose Royce. “This was the largest one so far. Rose Royce was off the chain, so if you missed that, you missed a great one,” he said.
Councilman Alex Padilla reminded the public of Mayor Butts’ upcoming State of the City Address, April 21 at the Fabulous Forum. He also praised Angela Williams and her staff in Public Works for their efforts toward the Earth Day event. “Rose Royce nailed it, everyone had a great time,” Padilla said.
Councilman Ralph Franklin gave a shout out to WLM Financial for their efforts to educate the community about investing in their homes and how to use home equity. He also mentioned the South Bay Service Center as a resource for helping consumers with low-interest loans.
Councilman Eloy Morales thanked Parks, Recreation and Library Services Director Sabrina Barnes for her help in getting the baseball field ready at Rogers Park for Jackie Robinson Weekend. Weighing in on comments about the officer-involved shooting, he said the community needs to “believe in your police department and believe in your leadership.”
“No matter how great a job people do, bad things are going to happen,” Butts said referring to the investigation. “The barometer is how you address them. This is an open and active investigation. Until all questions are satisfied, it won’t be done.”
The meeting was closed in memory of Robert McNeill, a managing partner with the prestigious Ivie McNeill & Wyatt Law Firm and Damon Guinn, a long time District 4 resident.