Now, the LAPD is known for having the tact and subtly of a half-brick in a sock; the hipster of police forces across the nation, the LAPD was militarizing before militarizing was cool. Since the LAPD is the same public relations disaster that brought you Rodney King, so it should be no surprise, as depressing as it may be, to learn they shot and killed an unarmed “mentally challenged” black man named Ezell Ford.
An eyewitness told the Huffington Post Wednesday that that he heard an LAPD officer shout “shoot him” seconds before three bullets were emptied in the 25-year-old man, who was lying on the ground. The LAPD released a statement after the shooting, saying that “it is unknown if the suspect has any gang affiliation.”
But the people in Ford’s neighborhood said that he wasn’t involved in gangs. An eyewitness, Leroy Hill, confirmed the three shots:
“He wasn’t a gang banger at all,” Hill said. “I was sitting across the street when it happened. So as he was walking down the street, the police approached him, whatever was said I couldn’t hear it, but the cops jumped out of the car and rushed him over here into this corner. They had him in the corner and were beating him, busted him up, for what reason I don’t know he didn’t do nothing. The next thing I know I hear a ‘pow!’ while he’s on the ground. They got the knee on him. And then I hear another ‘pow!’ No hesitation. And then I hear another ‘pow!’ Three times.”
The incident happened Monday evening around 8:20, during an “investigative stop” in the Newton area of south LA. According to an LAPD release, a “struggled enused” during the stop, which resulted in the shooting. Ezell was rushed to a local hospital where he died, despite receiving treatments.
Ezell’s mother, Tritobia Ford, said that her son was complying with the police when they shot him. An activist group, “Justice 4 Fords” announced their plans Wednesday to orchestrate a protest outside of the LAPD headquarters Sunday:
Another eyewitness told the local new affiliate KLTA that Fords mental state was well-known to the neighborhood and to the police, stating that “Every officer in this area, from the Newton Divison, knows that — that this child has mental problems.” The man added that there wasn’t any purpose for the excessive force or the cops firing three shots into his back. “No,” he said, “Then when the mom comes, they don’t try to console her … they pull the billy clubs out.”
The shooting, in the words of one younger witness, was “racist bullshit.” A middle-aged eyewitness went so far as to accuse the police of harassing Ford, and having targeted him specifically, according to the Huffington Post. He told the Post that “The day before they were messing with him and they came back the next day and made good on it.”
The LAPD released a statement, describing the event:
“When the officers got closer and attempted to stop the individual, the individual turned, grabbed one of the officers, and a struggle ensued. 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.
“After the officers fired their handguns at the individual, they were able to handcuff him and call for a rescue ambulance. Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics arrived and transported the individual to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead.”
The family has not been idle in the meantime. The lawyer for the family said that he plans to take immediate legal action against the city’s police department. When he appeared on MSNBC’s “All in With Chris Hayes” Wednesday evening, the attorney, Steven Lerman, announced that he would be “immediately” filing a federal civil rights lawsuit against the LAPD.
“Justice will come to this family in federal court,” Lerman said, “not on TV.”
Lerman also confirmed that Ford was unarmed when the police gunned him down:
No, no, no, no. He was not armed. He was mentally challenged. This is not the person that’s lurking behind a corner with a gun. He’s not a gangbanger. Walking down a city street, a citizen of Los Angeles, walking down a city street unarmed at 8:00 on a Monday night.
I can’t think of more innocent circumstances. But to be set upon by these officers who absolutely lost control and went to deadly force. This young man, what kind of fight could he have put up. Really, this is as sickening as it is said.
You can watch the interview with Chris Hayes below.