- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 27, 2018

Five white ex-cops have filed a lawsuit against the city of Inglewood, California, claiming they were fired after the fatal shooting of a black couple in a car based on their race.

The former police officers—Sean Reidy, Richard Parcella, Michael Jaen, Andrew Cohen and Jason Cantrell—said in the complaint filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court that they were dismissed even though two more senior officers at the scene—both Latino—were not.

“Based on our investigation, we’re convinced that they were fired or terminated because of their race,” attorney Zorik Mooradian told the Washington Times. “They were the five rank-and-file officers at the scene at the harm’s way, with the two Hispanic sergeants supervising.”

According to the complaint, the five officers were among those who responded in February 2016 to a report of a locked gray Chevy Malibu in the middle of the street with the engine running.

Inside the car were Marquintan Sandlin, 32, and 31-year-old Kisha Michael. Both were unconscious, and she had a loaded semiautomatic firearm in her lap.

For 40 minutes, multiple officers tried to wake up the couple using lights, air horns and sirens, and by bumping the Chevy with their vehicles. A helicopter provided light during the operation.

When Mr. Sandlin woke up, he was ordered by the incident commander to keep his hands where they could be seen and roll down the window, but instead he drove into the patrol car parked ahead of him and then backed into a police vehicle behind him.

Despite being ordered to stay away from the gun, Mr. Sandlin turned and reached toward Ms. Michael’s lap. He was shot by an officer and died while being transported to the hospital.

Now awake, Ms. Michael was ordered to keep her hands up but reached down toward her lap. She was shot multiple times by the officers and died at the scene.

The five white officers, all of whom were young and less experienced than others at the scene, were placed on leave and subsequently fired, but not the sergeant and incident commander, who were Hispanic.

“Instead of being put on leave for several months and/or fired, non-white officers involved in similar shootings have been allowed to return to work in less than a week,” said the lawsuit.

The shooting prompted protests and calls for the city to improve its transparency. In May 2017, Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts announced that the officers were no longer employed by the city police department, but declined to provide details.

“They should not have been fired, and they weren’t fired because of shooting, they were fired because of some very miscellaneous reasons,” Mr. Mooradian said. “It was incomprehensible. It could not be justified.”

Mr. Mooradian, who filed the lawsuit Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court, said the complaint names the mayor, city council members, police department, and police chief.

The city of Inglewood did not return immediately Thursday a request for comment.

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