Police Commission Goes Against Chief: Finds Some Fault in Ford Shooting

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One Los Angeles police officer involved in the fatal shooting of Ezell Ford in South Los Angeles violated department policy, but the other was justified in firing his weapon, the city Police Commission decided today.

Ford, 25, was fatally shot by police Aug. 11 near 65th Street and Broadway. Police said the officers approached Ford, who lunged at one of them and began grabbing for his weapon.

Police Chief Charlie Beck and the department’s independent watchdog, Inspector General Alex Bustamante, each concluded that the officers were justified in their actions, although Bustamante faulted the tactics used by one of the officers.

The Police Commission, which has the final say on whether the officers acted properly, met behind closed doors for more than three hours reviewing the investigations, and concluded that some of the officers’ actions were within department policy and some were not.

When it came to the actual shooting, the commission decided unanimously that one officer violated department policy, while the other did not, commission president Steve Soboroff said.

The commission did not specify which officer was found to have violated policy. The officers involved in the shooting were previously identified as Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas.

Beck will now decide what discipline the one officer will face.

“This is a tragedy for all involved — the family, relatives, loved ones and friends of Mr. Ford, as well as the involved police officers,” Soboroff said. “To the Ford family, my fellow Police Commissioners and I extend our sincere sympathies for your profound loss.”

Soboroff went on to say the LAPD has the most extensive review process in the nation for use-of-force incidents.

“Our review of this incident has been intense and intensive,” he said.

But activists who have been clamoring for the officers to be punished for the shooting were still dissatisfied with the commission’s findings. Some people in the audience shouted profanities at the commission members as they walked out of the room at police headquarters, and at least one yelled,
“Murderer.”

Autopsy results showed Ford was shot three times — in the right side of his back, the right arm and the right abdomen. The gunshot wounds to the back and the abdomen were both fatal, according to the report.

Ford was pronounced dead in an operating room at California Hospital Medical Center.

The commission heard more than three hours of often heated and impassioned pleas from Ford’s mother, Tritobia, and community activists who said Ford was mentally ill and police officers “did wrong,” and justice has to be served.

Ford’s family is scheduled to hold a press conference at 8 p.m. tonight.

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