The Los Angeles Police Department blocked the release of the autopsy findings of Ezell Earl Ford on Monday, claiming that they regularly place a “security hold” on autopsies during early stages of an investigation.
Ford was shot by police officers on August 11 in an incident that has provoked outrage by family members who contend that Ford’s death was unjustified.
Cmdr. Andrew Smith, in a statement reported by KPCC 89.3, explained why the autopsy was witheld. “We don’t want the witnesses’ testimony to be tainted,” he said. Smith added that detectives want to obtain “clean interviews” from people, rather than what they may have read or seen from media outlets about Ford’s death. Loyola Law School Professor Laurie Levenson told KPCC that she agreed with Smith, that it’s not uncommon for police to delay the release of an autopsy to gather more accurate information from witnesses.
However, some are saying that the LAPD is trying to cover its tracks. Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, responded to the delay in the autopsy release by excoriating the police department: “The blocking of the autopsy report of Ford comes on the heels of the release of the autopsy report on Michael Brown, which contradicted the police version of how Brown was killed.” said Hutchinson. “The blocking of the release [of the] Ford autopsy report further fuels suspicions about the LAPD’s version of the Ford killing.”
Although analysis of the Brown autopsy is not final, contrary to Hutchinson’s assertions, the autopsy actually contradicted what Dorian Johnson, Brown’s accomplice and main witness, said about Brown being shot in the back.
The killing of Ford is being compared with the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Mo. On Sunday, hundreds of protesters attended a rally outside LAPD 77th district headquarters.