More steps ahead in in­quiry into Ezell Ford killing

Los Angeles Times - - THE NATION - By James Queally james.queally@la­times.com

The Los An­ge­les Po­lice Com­mis­sion’s rul­ing that one of the of­fi­cers who shot and killed Ezell Ford last sum­mer vi­o­lated LAPD pol­icy was an im­por­tant step in the year­long in­quiry. But it is by no means the fi­nal one.

Scru­tiny of Ford’s death, which be­came part of a larger de­bate on po­lice use of force and race re­la­tions across the coun­try, will con­tinue to play out in court­rooms, the halls of the dis­trict at­tor­ney’s of­fice and in­side Po­lice Chief Char­lie Beck’s of­fice. Dis­ci­pline

The Po­lice Com­mis­sion re­jected Beck’s find­ing that Wampler was jus­ti­fied in open­ing fire, but the chief is the only one with the author­ity to ad­min­is­ter dis­ci­pline against of­fi­cers.

Beck could choose not to dis­ci­pline ei­ther of­fi­cer. He could also is­sue writ­ten rep­ri­mands or sus­pen­sions, or sug­gest that they be ter­mi­nated.

If Beck opts to have ei­ther of­fi­cer fired, the of­fi­cer would then have a Board of Rights hear­ing, which would ei­ther ap­prove or re­ject Beck’s find­ings.

No mat­ter what Beck de­cides, he is barred by state law from mak­ing the dis­ci­pline public, although he can talk about the dis­ci­pline pri­vately with the com­mis­sion and in gen­eral terms pub­licly.

Beck and the Po­lice Com­mis­sion have ar­gued be­fore over how he dis­ci­plines of­fi­cers, and the chief has an­gered the panel by de­clin­ing to pun­ish of­fi­cers af­ter the com­mis­sion found that they vi­o­lated pol­icy. Crim­i­nal charges

The dis­trict at­tor­ney’s of­fice is still re­view­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of crim­i­nal charges against Wampler and his part­ner, An­to­nio Vil­le­gas. Such re­views are rou­tine in po­lice shoot­ings where a per­son is struck by gun­fire.

Ford’s fam­ily has re­peat­edly called for mur­der charges to be filed by Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey.

Pros­e­cu­tions against of­fi­cers, how­ever, are rare. The dis­trict at­tor­ney’s of­fice has not pros­e­cuted an LAPD of­fi­cer for an on-duty shoot­ing since 2001. Civil rights law­suit

Ford’s fam­ily filed a wrong­ful-death suit against the depart­ment in Septem­ber, one month af­ter the shoot­ing.

In the civil suit, the fam­ily said Ford was not com­mit­ting a crime when of­fi­cers ap­proached him and was com­ply­ing with po­lice or­ders to lie on the ground when he was shot.

The suit also al­leged that of­fi­cers knew Ford was men­tally ill but did not take that into ac­count on the day of the shoot­ing.

The of­fi­cers, one of whom had en­coun­tered Ford be­fore, told in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tors they did not rec­og­nize him on the day of the shoot­ing.

Ir­fan Khan Los An­ge­les Times

CHIEF BECK is barred by state law from pub­licly dis­clos­ing the dis­ci­pline of LAPD of­fi­cers.

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