The Los Angeles police chief and his department’s independent watchdog have concluded that two officers were justified in shooting and killing a 25-year-old mentally ill black man last year. The Los Angeles Times was the first to report word from sources that investigators found evidence that they believe back up the officers’ claims that they opened fire because Ezell Ford was trying to grab an officer’s gun. “Ford and one of the officers, Sharlton Wampler, had scratches on their hands, and the holster for Wampler’s gun was scratched as well, the sources said,” reports the Times. “Tests found Ford’s DNA on the weapon, according to the sources.”
The findings are not final though, as they really are just recommendations to the Police Commission, a civilian panel that will have to make the final determination about whether the shooting fell within department policies, notes the Associated Press, which confirms the Times reports. Although the police chief will call on the commission to clear the officers of all wrongdoing, the inspector general says the officers were wrong in how they approached Ford from the beginning and should have kept their distance to prevent a direct confrontation. Even if the commission agrees with the inspector general though, it is up to the chief to decide on the appropriate punishment.
Ford died two days after Michael Brown was also shot and killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri. Although Ford’s death sparked demonstrations and marches in Los Angeles, it never quite garnered the national attention of Brown’s death.