One Officer Justified, One Not In Ezell Ford Shooting, LAPD Commission Finds
The Los Angeles Police Commission decided today that one LAPD officer was justified when he opened fire on Ezell Ford, but that the other violated department policy. Ezell Ford, a 25-year-old, unarmed black man with a history of mental illness, was fatally shot three times during a confrontation with two LAPD officers on August 11 in South L.A.
Previously, Police Chief Charlie Beck said that both officers were justified in the shooting because Ford had lunged at one of the officers and reached for his gun when the officers approached him. Today, the Police Commission came to a different conclusion. After meeting behind closed doors for over three hours, they have concluded that one officer was justified in shooting Ford, but that other violated department policy, according to City News Service. The Commission also held both officers at fault for drawing their guns at different times during the incident, the L.A. Times reports.
The officers were previously identified as Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas, though the Commission did not specify which was found to be in the wrong. Now, Police Chief Charlie Beck will determine what punishment is appropriate for that officer. It will be up to the L.A. County District Attorney's Office to determine if criminal charges will be filed, KTLA reports.
Prior to the decision, the Commission heard from community members and activists including Ford's mother, Tritobia Ford. "I'm begging you, please, please. My son would never grab for no gun. He wanted to live. That's all he wanted to do was live. He walked. He walked the streets. I didn't want him to walk the streets around there because I know it was unsafe. That was his right. And he didn't deserve to die for it. And that's all I have to say. Please, please, I have faith in you yet," she said.
Demonstrators assembled Sunday and yesterday outside of Mayor Eric Garcetti's home in Hancock Park, protesting Ford's shooting. Garcetti is expected to make a statement about the decision today at 5:30 p.m.