Community activists are outranged that LAPD officers who shot Ezell Ford, a mentally-ill man who attempted to pull an LAPD officer’s gun in a struggle during a stop, will not be charged in his death.
LOs Angeles County prosecutors said Tuesday they will not criminally charge two Los Angeles police officers who shot and killed Ezell Ford during a clash near his South L.A. home in 2014, drawing the ire of activists who say LAPD officers are rarely held accountable when they use deadly force.
The death of Ford, a 25-year-old black man, generated controversy almost immediately, becoming a local touchstone in the ongoing criticism over how officers interact with residents in African American and Latino communities. More than two years later, local activists still describe Ford’s death as an unjust killing, continuing to chant his name along with others killed by police.
The investigation that followed Ford’s death has been closely watched by those activists, LAPD observers and many within the department. L.A. County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey has faced criticism over her handling of the case, particularly the amount of time it took for her office to reach its decision.
That decision comes more than a year and a half after a police oversight panel faulted one of the officers, saying that his handling of the encounter was so flawed that it led to the fatal shooting.
On Tuesday, Lacey’s office detailed the decision not to prosecute the officers in a 28-page report, saying the physical evidence corroborated the officers’ accounts that Ford knocked one officer to the ground and tried to grab his gun. Ford posed “an immediate threat” to the officers, prosecutors wrote, and they acted lawfully when they responded with deadly force.
Standing near a portrait of her son, Tritobia Ford spoke to reporters at the First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Los Angeles on Tuesday afternoon and sobbed as she expressed her dismay with that conclusion.
“The last bit of hope that we had is crushed,” she told reporters.“These officers are going scot-free. They’re getting away with murder. There’s no justice for Ezell.”
In 2015, the Police Commission concluded that Wampler violated department policy when he fired at Ford. The board said it looked at the “totality of the circumstances” — not just the moment he fired — and faulted the officer’s decision to approach and physically contact Ford. Villegas was cleared in his use of deadly force, but the panel criticized him for drawing his weapon early in the confrontation. The commission’s decision overruled LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, who said he believed the officers acted within policy.
Let’s be very blunt: the LAPD Police Commission which faulted the officers in this situation is an pathetic attempt at social engineering, not a legitimate review board. Feel free to read their bios. They’re nothing more or less than a gaggle of social justice activists appointed by a progressive Mayor. They lack any discernible firearms training, use of force training, or relevant law enforcement experience, at any level. They aren’t experts. They’re dilettantes. They are unqualified, judgmental amateurs who lack any relevant basis to judge use of force incidents. Their ignorant opinions are nothing more or less than political theater, and that is sadly the case with most of the activist-filled police commissions that have been foisted upon some law enforcement agencies.
What really matters is a competent investigation, based on the facts and the evidence.
That evidence shows that LAPD officers Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas attempted to stop Ezell Ford after he stepped away from a larger group of men in an area rife with gang activity. Wampler attempted to grab Ford, and Ford knocked him down and attempted to take the officer’s weapon. Ford’s DNA on Wampler’s holster confirms this, and a witness report hearing officers yelling at Ford to let go of the gun. When Ford refused to release the officer’s weapon, they fired.
As a wise friend once told me, in an entangled ground fight, “you” do not have a gun. “Ya’ll” have a gun, and if the struggle devolves from fisticuffs between two people to an attempt to gain control of the gun, you’re now in a deadly force encounter.
I’m aware of Ezell Ford’s prior diagnoses for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Neither one comes close to justifying Ford’s decision to go for Officer Wampler’s gun.
This was not an example of excessive force used by police officers.
This was a case of social justice warriors attempting to vilify police and justify violent actions by criminals that put the lives of law enforcement officers at risk, which is part of a wider campaign by the radical left to drive a wedge between law enforcement and the communities they serve as a way of gaining political power.
I have a great deal of empathy for Mr. Ford’s mother, Tritobia Ford. It’s horrible when a parent has to bury a child.
The fact remains that Ezell Ford created the conditions that put the lives of these two officers at risk when he knocked down Officer Wampler, got on top of him, and attempted to acquire his gun.
That’s not “murder,” ma’am, in any time or place.
That’s simple and straightforward self defense, whether you like it or not.