Tuesday the Los Angeles Police Commission, a civilian police watchdog committee, overruled an LAPD internal investigation of last year’s killing of a mentally ill black man by two white officers.
The commission found that officer Sharlton Wampler was wrong to use deadly force, but cleared his partner Antonio Villegas’s use of his weapon, in the fatal shooting of Ezell Ford on August 11, 2014.
Wampler was unjustified to open fire on Ford, was wrong to draw his weapon, and used unacceptable tactics, the commission stated.
In regard to Villegas, a member of the LAPD anti-gang unit, the commission disapproved of his initial decision to draw weapon, but concluded that he was right to fire his gun.
Friday the LAPD’s investigative watchdog commission determined that the police officers were justified in shooting Ford.
Attorney Gary Fullerton, whose firm is representing the two officers, although happy with the ruling on Villegas, was disappointed with Wampler’s reprimand. “What we’re concerned about is the commission succumbed to the pressure of the mob,” he said. “It’s a shame that police officers can’t do their job and protect their lives.”
“They got in a fight with this guy and a bad thing happened,” Fullerton said. “It’s unfortunate that it happened.”
Breitbart News has reported that on August 11 the two officers struggled with Ford after suspecting he had tossed away some drugs when they approached him. The scuffle became violent and the officers allege Ford tried to extract Wampler’s gun from his holster.
Both officers fired on the troubled twenty-five-year-old killing him. A witness to the incident claims that Ford did not offer any resistance to the officers and held his hand in the air when he was shot.
Ford, who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, has become a symbol in Los Angeles for the nationwide movement decrying alleged police abuse driven by unbridled racism.
According to the Los Angeles Times, when the Los Angeles Police Commission differs with LAPD Chief Charlie Beck’s investigations, he has angered the commission by handing out written reprimands only and avoiding stern disciplinary actions.
Chief Beck could order that the officers be retrained, suspended or even fired.