INGLEWOOD, Calif. (FinalCall.com) – Officer Brian Ragan of the Inglewood Police Department was already under investigation for the shooting death of an unarmed man in May when he fatally shot a 38-year-old postal employee at his home on July 21.
Family members and friends told The Final Call that at about 12:30 a.m., Kevin Wicks was in his home, minding his own business. The next thing they knew, paramedics were carrying him out on a stretcher, without any explanation of what happened.
“We are severely hurting by this and it’s like all of our lives have been taken. My daughter’s very distraught. She was very close to him. My grandson is very distraught as well because they saw them bring him down the stairs with his left arm just dangling down like he was a slab of meat,” said Nadia Battle, Mr. Wicks’ sister.
According to Ms. Battle, her daughter Natisha Meloncon called the police to report a domestic violence disturbance within the complex. She lives on the lower level and her uncle lived upstairs.
The 22-year-old called police to check out a ruckus that was coming from a vacant, open unit next door to her uncle’s, but they went to the wrong address, her mother said. No one in the complex said they heard police identify themselves upon arrival, nor did they hear any warnings prior to shooting, Ms. Battle said. “Natisha’s window was open and she was listening, because she was afraid about the dispute and over the language she was hearing the people use, but she didn’t hear the police say anything,” Ms. Battle added.
The police department reports that when officers knocked on Mr. Wicks’ door, they identified themselves as police officers. He allegedly answered the door with a gun, which was licensed and registered in his name, raised it at the officers and Officer Ragan fired and killed the 19-year-postal worker.
“My brother’s only been there since March and he’s had a lot of incidents happen. One neighbor who is always drunk was beating on his door early one morning. There was a transient sleeping on his door step with a knife in her hand, and the next door apartment was vacant and left unlocked, so a lot of transients were going in there,” Ms. Battle explained.
Officer Ragan has been placed on administrative leave again, but depending on the department’s investigation and Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks’ determination, he could be back on the streets by the time Mr. Wicks is put to rest.
Sgt. Gabriela Garcia, a police spokesperson, said the review period for officer-involved shootings ranges from as little as one day to one year. Chief Seabrooks weighs the psych evaluation and total circumstances so it is not unlikely for an officer to be back out in the field while the investigation is still ongoing, she explained.
Officer Ragan and his partner claimed in the Michael Byoune case, which happened in early May, that two Black males fired on them from a moving car. But no weapon was found and family members say the men were fleeing a shooting at a popular Inglewood hamburger stand.
Officer Ragan was returned to the field about a month after that shooting and community residents and leaders say just because Sgt. Garcia deems it “not uncommon,” that doesn’t make it right.
“Of course we’re outraged at any murders whether it’s at the hands of gang members or police and we’re not going to accept it no matter who it is. This just doesn’t happen to White folks and I don’t care if you have a Black female police chief or White one, all of them are racist because Black life has no value. I’m not anti-police. I’m anti-anybody who kills Black people. What will you tell us this time, that your life was in danger again? That this postal worker was a gang member?” asked Tony Muhammad, Nation of Islam Western Region student minister.
Although the police dispute that the officer went to the wrong address, Kevin Hackie, a private investigator and retired law enforcement officer, agreed that the officers erred.
“The officers did go to the wrong house because I’ve already talked to the person who made the 911 call and Inglewood P.D. has not even spoken to her as of yet. She gave them the description of two light complexioned Black females and a male, close hair cut driving a green Chevy Lumina,” Mr. Hackie said.
Mr. Hackie said the officers should have waited for sufficient back up, gotten on the P.A. system and called for their suspect to come out with his hands in the air if he wouldn’t open the door, unless they had knowledge that someone’s life was in grave jeopardy inside.
“Unfortunately, after being a cop for 18 years, I’ll tell you this, any cop that ever tells you he never did something against the law is a damn lie. All cops walk both sides of the line, but it’s gotten to the point now that in a sense you just have rogue cops out here. The bottom line is, at this point, I won’t say it’s a racial issue, but a lot of cops still have that John Wayne syndrome,” Mr. Mackie said.
Ms. Battle is praying for people to come together because there are a lot of good police officers, including some of her family members and friends. “If I could talk to the chief, I would tell her that they need training and they need to revamp their whole system, because the one they are using isn’t working,” she said.