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Ezell Ford Family Reaches Tentative Settlement With City, Waits On City Council Approval

A memorial set up for Ezell Ford in 2014. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
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The parents of Ezell Ford, a 25-year-old black man who was fatally shot by LAPD officers in 2014, have reached a settlement with the city, the L.A. Times reports. The settlement—the terms of which have not be released—won't be finalized until the City Council approves it.

Ford was walking near his family's home in South L.A. on August 11, 2014 when he was approached by officers Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas. The officers tried to speak with him, but Ford, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, continued to walk away. According to the LAPD's account of the incident, Ford had his hands hidden near his waistband.

At one point Ford walked into a driveway and hid behind a car. One of the officers reached for Ford, and Ford forced the officer to the ground, LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck later claimed. Wampler would later allege that Ford had reached for his gun. Villegas fired two shots at Ford, and Wampler also shot Ford in the back. According to Beck, DNA evidence on Wampler's guns, as well as scratches on Wampler's holster and arms, corroborated his claims that he was in a physical struggle with Ford.

While Beck believed that the officers had acted within department policy, the Los Angeles Police Commission ruled differently in June of 2015. The commission—a panel of civilians who oversee the LAPD's actions—said that Wampler had violated policy because he didn't have a justifiable cause for approaching Ford. Also, the commission disapproved of Villegas' initial decision to draw his gun during the confrontation. The panel, however, did say that Villegas was justified in shooting Ford to protect Wampler.

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Danny Abir, managing partner of Abir, Cohen, Treyzon, and Salo—the law firm representing Ford's family—said that he expects the City Council to reach a decision on the settlement within 90 days, as that's how long these cases usually take.

Sergeant Jack Richter of the LAPD said that the department does "not have comments on the matter, yet, because nothing's happened until the City Council decides." Richter added that, "we're probably not going to comment on anything litigious."

The district attorney's office has not yet announced if it'll be filing charges against against the officers. Jane Robison, a spokesperson with L.A. County District Attorney's office, said the DA’s investigation into the shooting is still under review, according to KPCC.

Wampler and Villegas have been confined to desk duty since the shooting. In August, both officers sued the city, claiming that they are victims of racial discrimination. Villegas is Latino, and department records list Wampler as Asian, though he identified himself as white in the lawsuit. The suit claims that the officers were discriminated because of their race, as well as the race of Ford. The officers allege that they've been denied advancement, overtime, transfers and other employment opportunities as retaliation for the shooting.

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