LOS ANGELES — The National Action Network and a coalition of South L.A. civil rights organizations conducted a press conference Sept. 30 in front of the downtown office of Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, demanding her immediate resignation because of a failure to prosecute police officers in connection with several deaths of blacks.
“Her tenure as D.A. has been a failure marked with cowardice and a disaster for the African-American community,” said activist Najee Ali, who headed the protest.
Commenting afterwards, Ali said he was satisfied that the message was heard and noted, “I got a citation for obstructing traffic.”
“I was grateful to see the mother of Ezell Ford show up to support us,” said Ali, referring to the mother of a young, mentally ill man who was killed by Los Angeles police officers in August 2014.
A spokesperson in the district attorney’s media relations office said Lacey had “no comment.”
“Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey must go,” Ali said. “Lacey has served as the district attorney of Los Angeles County since Dec. 3, 2012. Unfortunately, her tenure as D.A. has been a failure. “Lacey has turned a blind eye to police abuse and the unjust murders of African-American residents in the city by law enforcement. There are numerous examples of Lacey’s unwillingness to protect our people from these abusive and killer cops,” Ali said in a public statement.
Relating the experience of the Ford case, Ali said “Ezell Ford, a mentally ill South Los Angeles young man was stopped by LAPD officers Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas for no apparent reason and killed after a physical confrontation with them.”
On June 9, the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners issued a ruling stating that Wampler violated Ford’s civil rights by detaining him. The commission also rejected Police Chief Charlie Beck’s conclusion that Wampler had adhered to LAPD policy.
The LAPD inspector general’s investigation found Wampler in violation of policy in four areas (tactics, drawing of weapon, use of non-lethal force, use of deadly force).
“The community is still waiting on criminal charges to be filed by Lacey against Wampler,” Ali said.
Another case cited by Ali was one involving Marlene Pinnock, a mentally ill grandmother who was beaten on the side of the Santa Monica (10) Freeway on July 1, 2014 by a CHP officer. Her beating was captured on videotape and made international news.
The officer was fired shortly afterward and Pinnock was awarded over a million dollars in a settlement offer.
“Fourteen months later, this officer is still walking around a free man because Lacey has refused to prosecute him,” Ali said.
The community is still demanding justice for Brendon Glenn, an unarmed Venice Beach homeless man who was shot and killed by the LAPD on May 5, Ali said. Glenn’s death came at the hands of LAPD Officer Clifford Procter and was captured on videotape.
To his credit, Chief Beck, who reviewed the videotaped killing, said at a news conference that he was “very concerned” about the shooting death of Glenn, Ali said.
Ali said Beck’s quote that “Any time an unarmed person is shot by a Los Angeles police officer, it takes extraordinary circumstances to justify. I have not seen extraordinary circumstances at this point,” raised skepticism in how and why Glenn died.
“Anytime you have Chief Beck stating publicly that he didn’t see a reason for his officer to kill Glenn, that should be a clear sign that Lacey should be prosecuting this officer as well, but instead she continues to fail to protect the African-American community,” Ali said.
Ali also cited the case of Charly “Africa” Leundeu Keunang, whose videotaped confrontation with LAPD officers March 1 on Skid Row resulted in his shooting death. That videotape has been viewed by millions on YouTube.
It also showed Trishawn Carey, a mentally ill Skid Row homeless woman who was a friend of Keunang.
Carey is currently in criminal court fighting for her freedom against Lacey.
She’s facing 25 years to life in prison for simply picking up and holding a police baton that was dropped by LAPD officers after they shot and killed Keunang, Ali said.
“Lacey and her failure to protect us has demonstrated she is more concerned with protecting abusive and killer cops,” Ali said. “Black lives don’t matter to her, but what does matter to her is continuing to be the black face and tool of a justice system founded and steeped in white supremacy.”
Also attending the press conference were the Rev. K.W. Tulloss of the National Action Network and William Smart, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Los Angeles.
Not present was Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Roundtable.
Hutchinson also has been critical of Lacey.
“The Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable has called on the D.A. repeatedly to conduct fast, fair and impartial probes into police misconduct cases,” Hutchinson said. “We specifically called on the D.A. to prosecute officers in the Marlene Pinnock beating case and the Ezell Ford slaying where there was clear evidence of abuse and/or misconduct by a CHP officer and LAPD officers.
“We have been extremely disappointed at the inaction of the D.A.’s office in these cases.”