The Los Angeles police department’s investigative watchdog commission determined that two white police officers were justified in fatally shooting a 25-year-old black man, Ezell Ford, on August 11 2014.
The killing came just two days after the nation changing fatal shooting of a black man, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Mo. by white police officer, DarrenWilson.
Breitbart News reported two weeks after Ford’s death that conflicting stories emerged about a violent altercation between the police and the 25-year-old Ford, who according to his parents was diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression.
The LAPD said that Ford tried to tackle one of the officers and reached for the officer’s gun, prompting both officers to open fire. However, a Ford family friend told the Times that she witnessed part of the incident and did not observe Ford tackling the officer or reaching for his gun.
According to the Los Angeles Times, investigators found evidence that Ford had struggled to take one of the officer’s gun from his holster, confirming the claims they made after the shooting.
Both Ford and one of the officers, Sharlton Wampler, had scratches on their hands, and the holster for Wampler’s gun was scratched as well, anonymous sources told the Times. Moreover, sources indicated that tests found Ford’s DNA on the weapon.
Wampler and his partner, Antonio Villegas, told investigators they decided to detain Ford on the night of August 11 because they believed he was trying to throw away narcotics as he walked. So far, there is no account whether any drugs were found.
Ford’s death became a symbol used by protesters to march against killings of blacks by police.
Ezell’s mother, Tritoba Ford, was emotional about the inspector general’s findings. On Friday she uttered to a Times reporter, “Wow. Oh, wow… Why didn’t they just allow him to keep walking? He wasn’t doing anything. He wasn’t committing any crime. He wasn’t bothering anybody… He was minding his own business.”
Craig Lally, president of the union that represents rank-and-file officers remarked, “The only reason you try to take a gun away from an officer is to use it against the officer or use it against somebody else. Had that person not escalated to try and get the gun away from the officer, this would be a non-event in everybody’s life. The suspect dictated what happened in this.
“The officer has a right to defend themselves,” Lally added. “They have no other alternative.”