INGLEWOOD, California — Trisha Michael has spent three years trying to find out why her twin sister died.
Kisha Michael, 31, was sleeping in a car with a friend when Inglewood police showed up just after 3 a.m. on February 21, 2016. Authorities tried to wake the couple when an “unknown exchange” took place between the two and authorities, according to an autopsy report.
Shortly thereafter, Kisha was dead, shot 13 times by police. Her friend, Marquintin Sandlin, 32, was shot seven times and later pronounced dead at a local hospital. Kisha was a single mother to three young boys and Sandlin a single father to four young girls.
Just over a year later, five of the Inglewood PD officers involved in the shooting were fired.
“The fact that they fired them five officers tells me they know something more than we know,” said Trisha Michael. The officers, who claim Kisha had a gun in her lap, are now suing over their dismissal.
What led the officers to resort to deadly force is still unclear. But as of January 1, California law offers families like Trisha’s a chance to find out.
Until this year, California had long protected police records from public view. That was due to a police law that Jerry Brown signed in 1978, during his first term as governor. Senate Bill 1421 undoes some of those protections, opening police records to the public. Brown signed the measure into law in September.
The state’s powerful police unions have filed lawsuits up and down the state challenging the law’s intent, effectively preventing the release of records in some districts.
VICE News spoke with some of the families who have everything to gain from the landmark legislation and the police unions who feel they have much to lose.
This segment originally aired March 8, 2019, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.