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Autopsy Report: Ezell Ford Grabbed Officer’s Gun Before Being Killed

The autopsy report for Ezell Ford was released by the Los Angeles Police department on Monday. According to Police Chief Charlie Beck, the report corroborates the accounts given by Los Angeles Police Department officers Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villages.

Beck said that the release of the report took over four months in order to “maintain the integrity and reliability of all eyewitness accounts.” He added that the “investigation is far from over,” but that “there is nothing in the coroner’s report that is inconsistent with officers’ versions of events.”

According to the LAPD’s statement:

At approximately 8:10 p.m. on August 11, 2014, two uniformed LAPD officers assigned to the Newton Area Gang Enforcement Detail were driving in a marked patrol car westbound on 65th Street when they saw Mr. Ford on an adjacent sidewalk.  The officers stopped and got out of their patrol car to speak with him.  After looking in the direction of the officers, however, Mr. Ford walked away and the officers observed him attempting to conceal his hands.

The officers followed Mr. Ford on the sidewalk to a nearby driveway when Mr. Ford crouched in between a car and a row of bushes.  One of the officers reached for Mr. Ford when Mr. Ford suddenly turned, grabbed the officer and forced the officer to the ground.  While on top of the officer, Mr. Ford grabbed the officer’s handgun and attempted to remove the gun from its holster.  The officer yelled out to his partner that Mr. Ford had his gun. The officer’s partner then fired two rounds striking Mr. Ford.  At about the same time, the officer on the ground while on his back grabbed his backup weapon, reached around Mr. Ford and fired one shot at close range striking Mr. Ford in the back.

The officers subsequently took Mr. Ford into custody and requested emergency medical aid from the Los Angeles Fire Department.  LAFD paramedics arrived and transported Mr. Ford to California Hospital where his death was pronounced at 10:10 p.m. The Coroner’s Autopsy Report identified that Mr. Ford’s death was caused from a fatal gunshot wound to his right flank and a contact wound to his right back.  The Coroner also found evidence of a non-fatal gunshot wound to Mr. Ford’s right arm.

The Associated Press reported that the Ford family’s attorney Steve Lerman has not commented on the report. However, Ford’s parents have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit and a $75 million claim against the city. The lawsuit charges that officers Wampler and Villegas were familiar with the neighborhood and knew well that Ford had mental issues. According to some reports, Ford was suffering from schizophrenia.

According to a  Facebook account sponsored by the Los Angeles Peoples Media, a rally was called on Monday to demonstrate against the LAPD. One post reads that Ford was “shot 3 times in the side and the back. That means it was an execution. Charge Officers Wampler and Villegas with murder now! Come to LAPD HQ at 3 PM today to demand justice against these racist, killer cops!”

Fords death has been compared to the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson since both were black men killed by white police officers, and both Brown and Ford were accused of attempting to take the officers guns. The incident in Ferguson happened just two days before the Los Angeles episode. The Brown incident has inspired social unrest nationwide, while so far Ezell Ford’s death has remained local.

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