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NAJEE’S NOTES: Inglewood police shooting angers family of victims

Relatives of 31-year-old Kisha Michael, who was gunned downed along with her male companion by the Inglewood police over the weekend, are outraged. The shooting happened on Manchester Boulevard and Inglewood Avenue outside a 7-Eleven convenience store.

Trisha Michael, the twin sister of Kisha, met with this writer on Monday at the scene of the killing for a press conference along with dozens of family members and friends expressing their collective disbelief. Police officials indicated that Kisha Michael was shot and killed by officers because she was in possession of gun in her car.

I was there to help support the family and also hold Inglewood police accountable. It’s important to remember that possession of a gun did not give the officers the right to open fire.

“Even though she may have had a gun, that does not mean she was a threat to officers,” Trisha Michael said.

To this day, police officers have not said whether she pointed the gun at them or if she was a threat. Also, her companion was unarmed. Why was he shot?

Those are questions I asked the assembled media who covered Monday’s press conference. I believe those are the right questions. Let’s see if Inglewood Police Chief Mark Fronterotta has the courage to start answering questions. So far Chief Fronterotta is ducking and dodging. He has refused to answer any questions or meet with family members, community leaders or the media.

I went over personally to his office on Monday after the press conference to request a meeting. So far no response from Chief Fronterotta.

If he feels his officers are blameless, then I would think he would be more responsive, especially to African-American media who are covering this shooting intensely.

I also walked over to Inglewood Mayor James Butts’ office. He was in his office at the time and welcomed me inside immediately. Mayor Butts, to his credit, answered all the tough questions and asked everyone concerned to let the investigation take its course.

Mayor Butts didn’t hide out. That’s leadership that I hope Chief Fronterotta can demonstrate to the family of the victims, our community and the media who deserve answers.

Ray Howard Patterson, 23, who was arrested this week by sheriff’s detectives as the suspected gunman in the murder of 1-year-old Autumn Jackson, the Compton toddler who was shot in the head Feb. 9 as she played in her crib, was released from jail Wednesday evening. The L.A. County District Attorney’s Office refused to prosecute him with the evidence that is currently available.

Whether the investigators locked up the wrong man in a rush to judgment remains to be seen. The investigation is continuing. I want to personally urge the Sherriff’s Department to continue to pour in additional resources to bring baby Autumn’s killer to justice. To all the community activists: please continue your hard work and dedication.

The shooting death of this toddler shook and moved an entire city into action. Let’s not give up until we find her killer.

City officials proclaimed “a new day in Carson” on Wednesday, praising voters for “getting it right” when they recalled embattled City Clerk Jim Dear from office the day before. Mayor Albert Robles, Councilman Jawane Hilton and Councilwoman Lula Davis-Holmes said they were “ecstatic” that Dear wouldn’t be able to disrupt work anymore at City Hall.

“Jim Dear was a bully and that came out from employees,” Robles said. “Employees are relieved he’s gone. In part, his racism was the problem. But also his mistreatment and disrespect of different constituencies and residents over the last 14 years in office. It is a new day in Carson.”

Vera Robles DeWitt, a former mayor and community activist, who led the recall campaign, said Dear fomented racial divisions in the diverse city and his recall will help reverse that.

“Jim tried to divide the city ethnically,” DeWitt said. “We’re trying to bridge the gap now and heal over this race. The winners have to get together and reach out to the losers. I think there’s a commitment on the part of the mayor to reach out to everybody. I want to see us heal and work together.”

Dear’s defeat at the polls came after months of skirmishes with city leaders who, since August, had obtained a restraining order against him and commissioned an internal investigation into employee complaints he systematically harassed and discriminated against them, which prompted the City Council to unanimously censure him in October.

Carson political insiders agree the biggest blow to Dear’s long-standing popularity was a September report by Riverside attorney Maria Aarvig that included interviews with 20 current and former employees. City Manager Ken Farfsing contracted Aarvig for the internal investigation when staffers told him in August they feared for their lives because Dear’s angry outbursts and harassing behavior were becoming worse. Some planned emergency escape routes from City Hall.

“Since Mr. Dear has become city clerk, he has more interaction with staff,” employee Sylvia Rubio told the council in September. “His behavior has become unbearable. [Many] of us at City Hall can’t even get real work done.”

Staff members described Dear as obsessed with holding onto the power he had as the city’s mayor for 11 years and described being forced from their jobs or bullied. They reported Dear ordering staff not to hire black employees and blaming black residents for, among other things, high crime rates.

The city’s northern precincts, where a majority of the city’s black residents live, overwhelmingly voted Tuesday to recall Dear. But southwestern and central precincts of largely Filipino, Samoan, white and Latino residents backed Dear by voting against the recall. Former Clerk Donesia Gause, who lost narrowly to Dear in March 2015, was chosen by voters to retake the office on Tuesday. She was appointed to the City Council last year, and a replacement for her either will be appointed or chosen in a special election.

“My first priority is reassuring the City Clerk’s Office staff it’s a new day,” Gause said. “We may begin rebuilding a favorable reputation by restoring services to our Carson residents that were reduced or eliminated,” such as passport/notary services and efficient customer service.

“The residents have spoken, so now it’s my duty to answer the call and effectively navigate the clerk’s office toward a successful future not tethered to petty politics.”

I’m relieved that Carson voters finally came to their senses and ousted Dear.

And finally the protest of the Oscar’s is Sunday at 2 pm at the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Highland Avenue. The protest is in response to no African-American nominees being selected for the second year in a row. Why should African–Americans support a program that no African-Americans are even in contention to receive an award for?

The Oscar’s are essentially saying that we want host Chris Rock and other black talent to entertain us and present white talent their awards but no black talent is worthy to even be nominated for our Oscars.

The Rev. Al Sharpton is an expected guest speaker at protest and will be delivering the guest sermon at First AME Church at the 10 a.m. service. Thank you Pastor Boyd and Michael Lewis for your leadership at FAME and hosting Rev. Sharpton.

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