Au­topsy shows LA of­fi­cers shot black man in the back


An un­armed black man killed by Los An­ge­les po­lice of­fi­cers was shot three times, in­clud­ing once in the back at close range, ac­cord­ing to his au­topsy re­port.

The Aug. 11 death of Ezell Ford is among a string of cases in the United States this year in which black men have been killed by po­lice of­fi­cers un­der con­tentious and con­tested cir­cum­stances.

The highly an­tic­i­pated au­topsy, re­leased Mon­day by the Los An­ge­les County coro­ner’s of­fice, showed that Ford was shot once in the back, once in the arm and once in the ab­domen.

The wound to his back left a “muz­zle im­print” on his skin, sug­gest­ing Ford was shot at very close range.

Steven Ler­man, the lawyer for Ford’s fam­ily, de­cried the “hor­ri­fy­ing” au­topsy re­port.

“What they did to Mr. Ford is noth­ing short of crim­i­nal,” Ler­man told AFP.

Ford, who was 25 and ap­par­ently suf­fered from men­tal ill­ness, was killed dur­ing a con­fronta­tion with two pa­trol of­fi­cers — Sharl­ton Wam­pler and An­to­nio Vil­le­gas — in south­ern Los An­ge­les.

At the time of the in­ci­dent, Ford was alone, un­armed and walk­ing on the side­walk.

The au­topsy re­port does not pro­vide a nar­ra­tive of the shoot­ing, but the Los An­ge­les Po­lice Depart­ment says the in­ci­dent un­folded with Wam­pler and Vil­le­gas at­tempt­ing to talk to Ford. He walked away, how­ever, and was “at­tempt­ing to con­ceal his hands.”

The of­fi­cers fol­lowed Ford and as one of them tried to grab him, “Ford grabbed the of­fi­cer’s hand­gun and at­tempted to re­move the gun from its hol­ster,” ac­cord­ing to a Los An­ge­les Po­lice Depart­ment state­ment.

“The of­fi­cer yelled out to his part­ner that Mr. Ford had his gun. The of­fi­cer’s part­ner then fired two rounds strik­ing Mr. Ford,” the LAPD said.

“At about the same time, the of­fi­cer on the ground while on his back grabbed his backup weapon, reached around Mr. Ford and fired one shot at close range strik­ing Mr.

Ford in the back.”

Call for Re­view

At a press con­fer­ence Mon­day, Los An­ge­les po­lice Chief Charlie Beck said “there is noth­ing in the coro­ner’s re­port that is in­con­sis­tent with the ver­sion the of­fi­cer has given.”

“The of­fi­cer drew his backup gun and ... shot Mr. Ford in very close prox­im­ity, prob­a­bly caus­ing the muz­zle im­print men­tioned in the coro­ner’s re­port,” Beck said.

Beck cau­tioned that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion would take sev­eral months to com­plete.

Ford’s fam­ily and wit­nesses cited by lo­cal me­dia deny that Ford had been ag­gres­sive.

The au­topsy was pub­lished only after res­i­dents com­plained of a lack of trans­parency in po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions and Mayor Eric Garcetti promised to publish it by the end of the year.

Tyler Izen, who heads the main union for LAPD of­fi­cers, said the au­topsy pro­vides “only one set of facts among many hun­dreds be­ing col­lected and as­sessed in the on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

In re­cent months, demon­stra­tors have taken to the streets across the United States to protest what they say is dis­pro­por­tion­ate po­lice vi­o­lence against un­armed African Americans, in­clud­ing the July chok­ing death of Eric Gar­ner in New York and the Au­gust fa­tal shoot­ing of Michael Brown in Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri.

Grand juries prob­ing both those cases de­clined to charge the of­fi­cers in­volved.

Los An­ge­les Ur­ban Pol­icy Round­table pres­i­dent Earl Ofari Hutchin­son called for Los An­ge­les County Dis­trict At­tor­ney Jackie Lacey to re­view the pos­si­bil­ity of fil­ing crim­i­nal charges against the of­fi­cers in the Ford case.

“Given the re­port and the ten­sions over the killing and other po­lice shoot­ings na­tion­ally, it’s ab­so­lutely cru­cial that ... Lacey con­duct a fast-track re­view of pos­si­ble crim­i­nal charges,” Hutchin­son said in a state­ment.

Sev­eral of Ford’s rel­a­tives, along with about 40 sup­port­ers, took part in a protest in Los An­ge­les late Mon­day, de­mand­ing jus­tice for him and for other black Americans who have died at the hands of po­lice in re­cent months.

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