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No charges for officers in 2016 fatal shooting of California couple found unconscious in car

Marquintan Sandlin and Kisha Michael, who were Black, were killed by Inglewood police responding to a call about a vehicle stopped in traffic lanes.

No charges will be filed against five former police officers involved in the 2016 shooting deaths of a man and a woman who were found unconscious in their car, Los Angeles County prosecutors confirmed this week.

Marquintan Sandlin and Kisha Michael, who were Black, were killed Feb. 21, 2016, by Inglewood police officers who were responding to a call about a vehicle that was stopped in traffic lanes.

Sandlin, who was in the driver's seat, was shot five times after police were able to wake the couple up. He died at the hospital. Michael was shot 13 times and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said in a 36-page report that an investigation found "that there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers’ use of deadly force was unlawful."

The shootings happened around 4 a.m. A man called 911 to report that two people were either asleep or unconscious in the front seats of their car. The caller also reported that the woman, later identified as Michael, had a gun on her lap, the March 31 report states.

Responding officers placed cars in front of and behind the couple's vehicle to prevent them from leaving. A Los Angeles police helicopter assisted.

Gascón said officers tried for over 40 minutes to wake up Sandlin and Michael. They used spotlights, light bars, sirens and an air horn and nudged the car’s back bumper with a police vehicle, but the couple did not awaken, he said.

A sergeant then made an announcement over a speaker while instructing Michael and Sandlin not to move and to roll the windows down. After a few minutes, Sandlin began to stir.

The report says Sandlin rolled the window down and then drove the car forward, hitting one of the patrol vehicles. He then reversed, striking another police vehicle. Sandlin is alleged to have driven the car forward again and stopped.

Multiple officers said they saw Sandlin lean toward his right and reach toward Michael's lap, where there was a handgun, according to the report.

An officer fired two shotgun rounds, hitting Sandlin. Michael then woke up and opened the passenger's door, the report says. Officers said they fired after they saw her reach toward her lap.

“Seeing movement, several officers yelled that Michael was reaching for the weapon," Gascón said.

All five officers fired, striking Michael.

An autopsy found that Michael's and Sandlin's blood alcohol contents were over the legal limit, the Los Angeles Times reported. Traces of methamphetamine, which the coroner’s report said can be used to treat attention deficit disorder and obesity, were also found in Michael's blood.

Gascón said in the report that the officers — identified as Jason Cantrell, Sean Reidy, Andrew Cohen, Michael Jaen and Richard Parcella — believed there was “imminent danger of death and great bodily injury” when they opened fire.

"We further find that there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers’ decision to use deadly force was not objectively reasonable,” Gascón wrote.

The officers, all of whom were fired, have sued for wrongful termination and retaliation, alleging they were the victims of racial discrimination when they were fired, court records show. The suit is in the pretrial phase and has a tentative jury trial for January.

The families of Michael and Sandlin sued the city over their deaths. They were paid $8.6 million in a settlement, NBC Los Angeles reported.

Attorneys for the families and the officers did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.

Gascón's report came the same day he wrote a separate report announcing that charges would not be filed against Pasadena officers in the 2020 death of Anthony McClain, a Black man who was shot and killed as he ran from a traffic stop.

McClain, 32, was a passenger when the car was stopped for a missing license plate. As officers were speaking with McClain and the driver, McClain is alleged to have put his hand toward his waistband and begun running away. The report says that McClain had a firearm and that officers shot him after he pulled out the weapon.