Multiple investigations were under way today into a fatal officer-involved shooting of a homeless man — the fourth shooting involving Inglewood police officers in as many months, a lieutenant said.
Officers responded to a report of a man with a gun in the 400 block of South Market Street, near Hillcrest Boulevard, at 1:47 p.m. Sunday, said Inglewood police Lt. Gabriela Garcia.
The officers found two men, one of whom had what appeared to be a chrome handgun tucked into his waistband, and told them to put up their hands, Garcia said.
One of the men complied and was detained. The other man refused, so officers used a “less lethal” weapon that was ineffective, she said.
The man allegedly reached for his waistband, and the officers “engaged the subject, resulting in an officer-involved shooting,” Garcia said.
Officers later determined the apparent gun was a toy, she said.
The man was taken to UCLA Medical Center and pronounced dead at 2:50 p.m., said Investigator Jerry McKibben of the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office.
A witness said the man appeared to be a threat.
“I’m on the phone with a customer, taking a call — an order at the window, and I see a guy with no shirt pushing a shopping cart with a magnum- type gun, you know, in his waistband, so I didn’t know what he could do or what he was capable of doing, and I don’t think the police knew,” Rodney Phillips told Fox11.
Phillips said he saw police talking with the man and then heard about nine shots.
Streets in the vicinity of the shooting were shut down during the investigation, according to a Channel 11 reporter, who said she counted about 60 evidence markers.
The Inglewood Police Department is conducting separate criminal and administrative investigations of the shooting, and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office is conducting its investigation, Garcia said.
A representative from the county Office of Independent Review was also involved in the investigations, she added.
The police department is already under investigation by the county office and is facing a $25 million civil lawsuit in connection with earlier officer-involved shootings.
Two Inglewood officers involved in a May 11 shooting in which 19-year- old Michael Byoune was killed and two others wounded at a restaurant near Crenshaw Boulevard and 85th Street were returned to active duty by Inglewood Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks.
On July 1, Ruben Walton Ortega, a 23-year-old alleged gang member, was fatally shot by Inglewood police.
Kevin Wicks, 38, was shot to death by Inglewood police Officer Brian Ragan at about 12:20 a.m. July 21 after four officers went to his door in response to a report of an argument involving a man and two women.
Inglewood police said Wicks, a 19-year employee of the U.S. Postal Service in West Los Angeles, answered the door with a gun in his hand and raised it toward the officers, prompting the gunfire.
But relatives and community activists said officers responded to the wrong apartment and that if Wicks was holding a gun, it was likely only for his safety since he lived in a dangerous neighborhood and was responding to a knock on his door around midnight.
Adding to the outrage over Wicks’ death was the fact that Ragan, a five- year department veteran, was one of the officers involved in the May 11 shooting of Byoune.
Wicks’ daughter and mother announced plans to file a $25 million claim against Inglewood.
Police Chief Seabrooks said a full probe of the Wicks shooting would be done.
Following calls from community activists for a thorough review of the department’s policies, the Inglewood City Council voted to have the county Office of Independent Review, an agency created to provide investigative oversight of the Sheriff’s Department, to conduct a probe of the department.
Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, sent a letter to the U.S. Attorney General calling for a federal investigation into the department.
Anyone with information about the latest shooting was asked to call Inglewood police at (310) 412-5246 or the anonymous hotline at (888) 41-CRIME.