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Inglewood to pay $2.45 million to settle claim in 2008 police shooting death [Updated]


Inglewood will pay $2.45 million to settle a civil lawsuit brought the families of three men who were shot, one of them fatally, by police officers who mistakenly believed gunfire was coming from the vehicle the three were riding in, according to a tentative settlement.

Michael Byoune died from his wounds, and driver Larry White and passenger Chris Larkin were injured in the shooting by Inglewood officers on May 11, 2008 (Mother's Day) outside a Rally's restaurant. Jacqueline Seabrooks, chief of the 190-member police department, described the incident at the time as "a very tragic outcome."

Carl Douglas, an attorney representing the victims and their families, said he was pleased by the settlement, adding that it brought "some measure of justice" to the victims. "Three young men who had done absolutely nothing wrong had their lives changed forever," he said.

"No amount of money will ever bring back Michael Byoune to his family, but hopefully, through his death, the city will make changes that will help all of the citizens of our community," Douglas said. "For that reason, his death will not be in vain."

Inglewood spokesman Ed Maddox confirmed the tentative settlement "pending the completion of final documents."

The Byoune case was the first in series of fatal shootings of unarmed suspects that year that drew community rebuke and calls for reform. leading to an inquiry by the Los Angeles County Office of Independent Review and to changes in training at the police department. Most significantly, the U.S. Justice Department launched a civil rights probe. Federal officials told the city they are continuing with their probe and plan close scrutiny of specific incidents.

On July 1, 2008, Ruben Walton Ortega, a 23-year-old alleged gang member, was shot and killed by an Inglewood officer when police said he reached into his waistband as he ran from an officer. Police said at the time that the officer believed Ortega was armed. Seabrooks later said he was not.

Three weeks later, police shot and killed Kevin Wicks, 38, on July 21 after officers said Wicks raised a gun at Officer Brian Ragan, who was responding to a report of a family disturbance at Wicks' apartment complex. Ragan was one of two officers involved in the Byoune shooting.

Then on Aug. 31, 2008, police shot and killed of Eddie Felix Franco, a 56-year-old homeless man who had a realistic-looking toy gun in his waistband. Officers fired at least 47 rounds at Franco when he appeared to reach for the gun. A nearby motorist was struck and grazed in the head by one of the bullets. 

A Times investigation, published more than two months before the federal inquiry began, found that Inglewood officers repeatedly resorted to physical or deadly force against unarmed suspects. According to law enforcement records reviewed by The Times, Inglewood police shot and killed 11 people, five of them unarmed, between 2003 and 2009.

-- Andrew Blankstein

Photo: Candles stand at a memorial for Michael Byoune shortly after he was shot and killed by Inglewood police in 2008. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times [Updated at 12:49 p.m.: A previous version of this post contained a photo that was misidentified.]

More: A Times Investigation: Deadly Force at the Inglewood Police Department. By Times staff writers Jack Leonard, Ari B. Bloomekatz and Victoria Kim.

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Comments () | Archives (16)

Wild wild west in Inglewood. Cops just shoot.

If taxpayers had any direct say in these settlements, I doubt there'd be these $2.45m payouts. Carl Douglas, an attorney representing the victims and their families, says he is pleased by the settlement: "No amount of money will ever bring back Michael Byoune to his family". But it sure bought you a new Mercedes, Carl. Thank me, I helped pay for it, as taxpayer w/o a lobby. It's easy to fleece a large group w/o effective representation.

Jumpy cops. Sad to say I know some of these officers. They should be mall cops instead of real cops.

you! police inglewood, how much did the acl u make this time?

Accept the simple truth that anyone taking a job in law enforcement needs constant psychology screening, a nut case with a gun is very danagerious.
But a nut case with a badge, uniform, and gun is extremely dangerious and lets face the fact it's impossible to protect children against them completely.

If your relative was unjustly murdered by IPD, would not not sue and expect to be compensated for your loss? Agree with Consumer13 that the citizens of Inglewood are footing the bill for the payout but you just can't let cops run wild killing people and no restitution is made. What have the citizens of Inglewood done about replacing their police chief? Seems as if police really got out of control after her arrival. Doubt seriously if the the lawyer involved really needed this case just to buy a new Mercedes. It's a double edge sword...don't like police but have to call them when in need, and don't like attorneys but call them when you have a need. Think about it!

Well, I'm sure the settlement will be paid for by insurance and not out of the city's general fund.
I will say I'd be much more supportive of the settlement if it actually included changes in policy for the department. In this case, the lawyer's words are just b.s. This was all about money. Not justice.

Why I don't visit Inglewood. And question. Wasn't Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks
brought in a couple of years back (with much fanfare) too help pry the itchy fingers of the I PD out from underneath those triggers? What happened?Regardless, Police officers have a tough job.

Why have there not been any prosecutions in these murders? It seems the Police are free to murder at will and the taxpayers must pay when they do.

It is really unfortunate that the public and victims families will never what happened on that tragic night and the gang bangers responsible for the initial incident will not go directly to jail, as they should.

...and to know that there are more lawsuits against the IPD, the city of Inglewood may very try to press the Bay Meadows Land Company to bulldoze Hollywood Park and build the mixed-use development.

As for the city itself, at least Roosevelt Dorn resigned. That was a good first step.

What would the payout be if the case went to trial? 2.45 mil seems low for one unlawful death and two serious injuries.

All cops should have to undergo random steroid testing. Alot of the aggression cold be resolved by putting this procedure into place.

I hope these families take this money they are getting do some good with instead of blowing it on cars with huge tires and rims and all the other junk. Pay off your mortgage, buy some property. Start putting away for your sons, daughters and other relatives educations.

Carl is just in it for the money, he's right no amount of money will bring the kid back, does he really care if the city makes changes, answer NO. He is happy with the 2.45m. Basically the people who suffered injury or a lost in the family will get the least from this. I'm happy for the victims at least they got something because some people die and get shot they get nothing but medical bills and funeral cost.

If I as a taxpayer had a say in the settlement it would have been for more money something to make the City really make changes. These cops need to start getting disciplined to help pay back some of the money from the cost of this lawsuit.

Cops with "righteous kills" earn bragging rights from their colleagues and get recruited by SWAT.

No wonder they're so quick to pull the trigger.

They do have a tough job, and sometimes they need to use force for their own safety and safety of the public.

However, if there was a bigger mountain of paper work, more scrutinizing publicity, and a huge independent investigation for every officer involved shooting instead of the standard pat on the back and prospect of promotion,
perhaps they would be so quick to shoot everything that moves.


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