Demonstrators march in downtown Los Angeles protesting the police shooting death of 24-year-old Ezell Ford earlier in the week of August 17, 2014, in Los Angeles, California. Several hundred protestors rallied in front of the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters to protest against recent police shootings in both Los Angeles and Missouri.
The Los Angeles Police Department has cleared officers Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas in the August 11, 2014 shooting death of 25-year-old Ezell Ford, calling the shooting “justified,” the Los Angeles Times reports.
As previously reported by The Root, Ford was shot three times, including once in the back at such close range that the muzzle of the officer’s gun left an imprint, according to the autopsy report.
Though the LAPD concluded that Ford, who was diagnosed with disorder and schizophrenia, engaged the officers in an altercation that led to his shooting, eyewitnesses maintain that Ford was restrained and facedown on the ground when he was killed.
Alex Bustamante, the Los Angeles Police Department’s inspector general, found the shooting justified, but he faulted the officers for how they approached Ford in the moments leading up to the shooting, according to the sources. LAPD officials have never offered an explanation for why the officers stopped the 25-year-old Ford, but the sources said that the officers told investigators they decided to detain him because they believed Ford was trying to discard narcotics as he walked. The department has never publicly said whether narcotics were found.
According to the Times, “the Police Commission, a civilian panel that oversees the LAPD and makes the final ruling on all serious uses of force by officers, is scheduled to discuss the shooting in private on Tuesday after its weekly public meeting.”
LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck is expected to recommend that the officers be cleared in three categories: their decision to draw their weapons; their decision to use deadly force and whether or not their tactics were acceptable. Bustamante is expected to recommend that the officers be “faulted for their tactics,” the Times reports.
In a case of what appears to be “Good-Cop/Bad Cop,” however, even if the Commission follows Bustamante’s recommendation, it would fall on Beck to decide the appropriate punishment for officers Wampler and Villegas.
Tritobia Ford, mother of Ezell Ford, recently said that she believes justice will prevail. “I just believe that God won’t allow Ezell’s life to be just taken like this in vain,” Ford said. “There will be some justice for Ezell,” she said. “I’ve been told I’m crazy. But I have to hold on to that.”
Click here to read more at the LA Times.