Los Angeles Officers Who Killed Unarmed Black Man Ezell Ford Will Not Be Charged
Jan 25, 2017 04:54 PM EST
The Los Angeles County prosecutors said that they will not charge two of their police officers who shot and killed unarmed black man Ezell Ford. Back in 2014, the death of the mentally ill Ford drew the attention of activists who claimed that the LAPD officers are held accountable when they use deadly force.
Ford's death created controversy and criticism over how officers interact with residents in African American and Latino communities, the Los Angeles Times reports. Two years since his death and local activists still describe Ford's death as unjust killing. The investigation that followed was closely watched by activists and many were criticizing Los Angeles County District Atty. Jackie Lacey for mishandling the case.
The facts of the case show that Ford, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, was walking near his South Los Angeles home when he was shot by officers Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas. The two were assigned to an anti-gang unit when they tried to stop Ford as he walked away from a "known gang area." Ford ignored the command causing Wampler to grab the black man as he believed that he was trying to discard drugs. Authorities said Ford then knocked Wampler to the ground and tried to grab his gun prompting the police to shoot.
Noteworthy, Ford was killed just days after a police officer fatally shot Michael Brown which sparked widespread national protests. In an interview, Lacey said that there is physical evidence that showed scratches on Wampler's handcuff holster and Ford's DNA on the gun holster. She claimed that the two Los Angeles officers had the right to defend themselves. But the issue people are trying to raise is not only unjust killings done by police officers but prosecutors who decide whether to criminally charge officers.
The Los Angeles County district attorney's office has not charged a law enforcement officer in an on-duty shooting since 2000. A local organizer, Melina Abdullah, accused Lacey of ignoring the excessive force within the LAPD. She said that there was already a Police Commission ruling that said the officers were out of policy but instead Lacey refused to prosecute officers who kill their kind of people. Tritobia Ford, the mother of Ezell, told reporters that the last bit of hope they had is crushed. "These officers are going scot-free. They're getting away with murder. There's no justice for Ezell," she said while sobbing.