Fear, distrust and racial tension pervades South Los Angeles three months after an unarmed African American was fatally shot by two Los Angeles Police Department officers last August during a violent physical struggle.
KTLA reported that Los Angeles police, city and county officials are asking for witnesses to the August police shooting of the mentally challenged Ezell Ford to come forward. Moreover, on Thursday LAPD officials said that they put the long-delayed autopsy report on “security hold” and will not release it until December.
Breitbart News reported in August that conflicting stories surfaced about the 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 contends that Ford tried to tackle one of the officers and reached for the officer’s gun, prompting both officers to open fire. Contrarily, 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.
Many community leaders are appalled by the police delaying the release of the autopsy report this long. The Los Angeles Times reported that such holds usually last a few weeks, yet in this case more than 13 weeks have passed since Ford died.
Mayor Eric Garcetti and Chief Charlie Beck spoke at an afternoon news conference, revealing that so far no witnesses have come forward since the August 11 incident took place. “We want the truth. We want witnesses’ statements to be as untainted as possible,” Beck said. “That is why we’ve held the autopsy. But we have no intention of denying the family or this community access to that autopsy forever.”
Civil Rights activist, Earl Ofari Hutchinson stated in a news conference that witnesses are not coming forward because “people fear the police in that community, because of all the history.”
Beck insists that he is holding back the evidence for good reason and admitted that there is “significant evidence in the report that could add credibility to a witnesses statement.”
One community leader said that “he has not seen this much tension in L.A. since the Rodney King beating.” The death of Ford occurred a few days after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, which continues to be a focal point for racial tension and has captured the attention of the entire nation.