The latest shooting by a cop to stir up controversy in Los Angeles happened this week in South L.A. The 25-year-old African American man who was killed by police was unarmed and was mentally challenged, family members of Ezell Ford told reporters.
They claim he was complying with cops and was on the ground when he was fatally shot by officers, an account that at least a few witnesses seemed to bolster.
However, the Los Angeles Police Department late yesterday alleged an entirely different set of facts surrounding the fatal confrontation Monday night:
A protest is planned for 3 p.m. outside LAPD headquarters downtown Sunday, and African American community leader Earl Ofari Hutchinson told reporters that he has asked to meet with LAPD Chief Charlie Beck about the shooting. He said:
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.
A pair of witnesses told KCAL9 that the man was down and apparently defenseless when he was shot. Cops have a different story.
They say that the two officers involved were on duty as part of the Newton Division Gang Enforcement Detail when they spotted the young man walking on a sidewalk near 65th Street and Broadway about 8:10 p.m. Monday.
According to an LAPD statement, the duo tried to stop him in order to talk to him:
After looking in the officers' direction, however, the individual continued walking and made suspicious movements, including attempting to conceal his hands.
When the cops got closer to him the man turned and grabbed one of the officers, the LAPD states, and "a struggle ensued." Here's the money statement about what cops say allegedly happened next:
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.
The man was cuffed and paramedics were called, police said. He died at a hospital.
An unnamed law enforcement official told KCAL9 that the young man might have gang ties. Of course, as you've read above, family members not only contend that Ford is innocent but that cops in the area knew who he was.
The backstory here is that we're in the middle of August, typically the hottest and most violent month of the year, and the LAPD wants to avoid the kind of unrest seen in Ferguson, Missouri following the recent police shooting of a black teenager who cops also said was reaching for an officer's service weapon.
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LAPD Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger, who's the city's top cop temporarily as Chief Charlie Beck takes some vacation time, tried to calm nerves with this statement:
The LAPD views any loss of human life as a great tragedy. The LAPD investigates, reviews, and adjudicates all officer-involved shootings as thoroughly and transparently as possible and with the independent review and oversight of the Los Angeles Police Commission, its Office of Inspector General, and the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office.
He also asked that any witnesses come forward and contact investigators at 213-486-5230.