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Inglewood Police Gun Down Unarmed Black Man

Los Angeles Sentinel, News Report, Francis Taylor Posted: May 15, 2008

In what the Inglewood and surrounding African American communities are calling senseless -- another unarmed Black man, 19 year-old Michael Byoune, was shot and killed by an Inglewood Police Department (IPD) officer in the early morning hours this week.

The fatal shooting of Byoune occurred on May 11 at approximately 1:40 a.m., according to policel reports.

Now the questions ricocheting throughout the community is, Why do some police officers shoot and kill innocent, unarmed Black men? Concerned citizens are also pondering what scenario will Inglewood Police Department create in the wake of an unjustified killing?

What alternative courses of action may the officers have employed to avoid shooting to kill? Why did they fear for their safety when the victim had no weapon, why will the police killer probably go unpunished, and what happens when the police accidentally kill the wrong person?

Those were the obvious questions that could have been asked by the hordes of television news reporters at the scene at the corner of Manchester and Crenshaw Blvd. the day following the shooting on May 12.

Some of them were anxious to speak with anyone who was willing to talk about the incident that left one Black man dead and one injured, while the individual or individuals responsible for shoot their weapons in the area, escaped and have not been identified.

Allegedly, Byoune and two friends parked their car in the parking lot of the Rallys Burger Restaurant located on the corner of Manchester Ave. and Crenshaw Blvd.

They reportedly got out of the car to purchase their late-night meal at the fast food eatery. Gunshots erupted behind the restaurant and Byoune allegedly attempted to flee the immediate danger by running to get into his vehicle, but Inglewood Police who heard the gunfire witnessed Byoune running to an waiting vehicle.

Inglewood Police issued a statement saying: as the subject entered the vehicle, he turned toward the officers. The vehicle proceeded in the direction of the officers and almost simultaneously the officers heard additional shots fired. The officers felt their police vehicle being struck and believed they were being shot at by the occupants of the vehicle. Fearing for their safety both officers fired multiple shots at the vehicle and it stopped directly across from them.

Byoune died at the scene. The driver, Larry White, also 19, was hit in the leg and a third, unidentified friend in the back seat, was not hit by the police officers gun fire.

Subsequently, Inglewood Police failed to find any weapons in Whites vehicle and there was no apparent evidence of any gunshots that struck the police car. In addition, although the police officers initially suggested that the incident was gang related, there is no evidence to confirm that Byoune or his friends have any gang affiliation.

In a police press conference Monday morning, IPD Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks expressed her sincere condolences to the families of the victims and promised a complete and objective internal investigation.

I want to assure you all that our investigation will be objective and comprehensive, Seabrooks said.

The community must now wait for the Los Angeles County District Attorneys office to complete their investigation to determine if any criminal charges will be filed against the officers.

In an earlier interview, Seabrooks explained that her office would not issue their determination until the DAs investigation and report are completed. That process may take up to one year.

In the meantime, the victims family members and friends, as well as the community members hope that justice is served while they mourn their tragic. loss.

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