The Police Commission has determined that one Los Angeles police officer involved in the fatal shooting of Ezell Ford violated department policy, but the other was justified in firing his weapon.
“This is a tragedy for all involved, the family, relatives, loved ones and friends of Mr. Ford, as well as the involved police officers,” said Steve Soboroff, the commission’s president.
Ford, an unarmed and mentally-ill black man, was fatally shot by LAPD officers Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas near his South Los Angeles home on Aug. 11, 2014.
LAPD officials had previously said the unarmed 25-year-old was resisting arrest and grabbed an officer’s handgun. Ford’s family disputed that account.
Soboroff said the investigation into the facts of the shooting was completed by the Los Angeles Police Department Force Investigation Division. The completed investigation was then presented to the L.A. Police Department Use of Force Review Board, who then made a recommendation to L.A. Police Chief Charlie Beck.
Beck then provided the Police Commission with his own report. He analyzed three specific areas: tactics of the involved officers, drawing of the firearm by the involved officers, and the use of deadly force by the involved officers.
During the news conference, Soboroff confirmed that Beck and the Police Department’s independent watchdog found the officers’ actions were within policy in all three areas. The board, however, found that some LAPD rules were violated.
The commission found that Wampler violated policy in every aspect they examined, from the initial contact with Ford to the use of lethal and nonlethal force.
Villegas was found in violation in only one area – an earlier drawing of a gun before the final use of deadly force.
“This incident has changed all involved in it forever. My fellow Police Commissioners and I clearly understand the grief and loss the Ford family will feel forever, as well as the impact on the involved police officers. Our compassion and thoughts will remain with them,” Soboroff said, concluding the announcement.
The Police Commission deliberated behind closed doors and listened to hours of public comments Tuesday. The speakers at the meeting, which became rowdy at times, included activists with Black Lives Matter Los Angeles as well as Ford’s mother, Tritobia Ford. She urged for the punishment of officers involved in the death of her son.
Beck said in a statement Tuesday night, “The Police Commission is an independent civilian review authority, appointed by the Mayor to represent the people of Los Angeles. I respect the process and the decision made in this matter.”
Soboroff said criminal culpability is the responsibility of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and not within Beck or the Police Commission’s authority.
“District Attorney Jackie Lacey, we haven’t heard from you. Where are you? We need to hear from you. The investigation is over,” Tritobia Ford said.
JUST IN: Ezell Ford’s mother speaks before LA Police Commissioners, says her son had mental issues, begs for justice. pic.twitter.com/ZC1KXxRS0j
— Marc Cota-Robles (@ABC7MarcCR) June 9, 2015
Over the weekend, protesters camped outside Mayor Eric Garcetti’s house in Hancock Park for two straight days. After meeting privately with Ford’s family for about 45 minutes, the mayor held a news conference at the First AME Church of Los Angeles Tuesday night to discuss the Police Commission’s findings. He praised the work of the Police Commission and said the Ford case shows that “we have a system that can work.”
“We are committed to a free and impartial process and that’s what we saw today,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.