U.S. probes Inglewood, Calif., police

March 12, 2009 at 8:15 PM
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INGLEWOOD, Calif., March 12 (UPI) -- The U.S. Justice Department is investigating the "procedures and tactics" of the Inglewood, Calif., Police Department, the department said Thursday.

In a statement posted on the department's Web site, Inglewood Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks promised full cooperation with the federal investigation of "past procedures and tactics used by Inglewood police officers involving use of force."

"We have been at work for months in implementing reforms aimed at improving how our officers go about their jobs, and we will continue to pursue efforts that heighten public safety, extend professionalism within the department and allow us to maintain the community's confidence and respect," Seabrooks said.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department also has been investigating the Inglewood Police Department.

The Los Angeles Times said Thursday its review of official documents and records, as well as interviews, indicated that five of the 11 people shot and killed by Inglewood police since 2003 were unarmed.

Civil rights activists called in September 2008 for an investigation of police shootings in which four people had been killed since May. The call came days after a 56-year-old homeless man was killed by Inglewood officers who said he appeared to be armed and refused orders to raise his hands -- and the gun tucked into Eddie Felix Franco's waistband proved to be a toy.

In May 2008, a 19-year-old man was killed and two other young men were wounded by officers who mistakenly thought they had weapons. In July, police fatally shot a 23-year-old alleged gang member and, in a separate incident, killed a 38-year-old man who allegedly pointed a gun at officers responding to a call about a domestic dispute.

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