Black Leaders Await Report on Controversial LAPD Shooting
UPDATE at 2:33 p.m. Monday, Dec. 29: The autopsy report on the Ezell Ford shooting has been released. See our latest on that, here.
It's a police shooting of an unarmed black man that, if widely believed by the African American community to be unjust, could become L.A.'s version of Ferguson, Missouri, where an officer's fatal confrontation with a black teenager set off riotous protests from the coast to coast.
Black community leaders in Los Angeles have been eagerly awaiting an autopsy report on the death of 25-year-old Ezell Ford, a report that Mayor Eric Garcetti said would be released by year's end.
Today was the day it was expected to be unveiled, and some activists had their protest signs at the ready. Even without seeing the document, some were calling for "charges" to be filed against two officers who opened fire.
Witnesses have said that Ford was on the ground and defenseless when a pair of Los Angeles Police Department gang cops opened fire near 65th Street and Broadway about 8:10 p.m. on Aug. 11.
Days after Ford's death, Ofari Hutchinson of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable reiterated the accounts of at least some witnesses:
They said Ford was not resisting, that he had mental challenges, and that police officers in the area were well aware of him and his condition.
The LAPD, however, said that Ford reached for an officer's weapon, prompting a partner to open fire alongside that cop.
During the struggle, they fell to the ground and the individual attempted to remove the officer's handgun from its holster. The partner officer then fired his handgun and the officer on the ground fired his backup weapon at the individual.
Ford was handcuffed and taken to a hospital, where he died.
Some activists were planning to gather outsdide LAPD headquarters at 3 p.m. today. Another demonstration organized by the L.A. Coalition for Community Control Over the Police Events was scheduled for Saturday at the scene of Ford's demise.
It's not clear what evidence an autopsy report could contain that would bolster critics' view unless, perhaps, Ford was shot in the back. The results of multiple force investigations, which would be more detailed about what authorities and witnesses believe happened that night, had yet to be revealed.
Police, of course, are wary of anti-cop sentiment in the wake of fatal law enforcement confrontations in Ferguson and New York, especially after two New York Police Department officers were fatally ambushed by a man who had apparently set out to avenge those deaths of unarmed black men.
Activists have feared that the autopsy report is being delayed as city leaders fret over the possibility of more anti-cop violence.
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Overnight a man opened fire on a marked LAPD patrol car not far from the Ezell shooting, at 62nd and Hoover streets. No officers were hit, and one of two suspects were in custody. Officials said it was too early to tell if this was a New York-style vengeance attack.
Hutchinson had this to say over the weekend:
We will again make clear at the Justice for Ford Stand In that we want a fair, objective, and transparent autopsy report that will determine whether the officers used reckless deadly force in killing Ford. We will also demand the prosecution of the officers if this is the case.
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