LOS ANGELES — Prosecutors continue to review the case of the officer-involved shooting death of Ezell Ford a year ago, a spokeswoman for the office said Tuesday, hours after a group protesting Ford’s death caused the Police Commission to dismiss its meeting early.
“The Ford case remains under review and we have no further comment,” Jane Robison of the District Attorney’s Office said.
It was not clear how many officers’ actions were under review by the District Attorney’s Office.
In June, the Los Angeles Police Commission ruled that Officer Sharlton Wampler’s use of deadly force in the death of the unarmed, mentally ill, man last Aug. 11 near 65th Street and Broadway violated Los Angeles Police Department policy, rejecting LAPD Chief Charlie Beck’s finding that Wampler had adhered to policy.
The commission ruled there was no reason to have detained Ford in the first place and that Wampler badly mishandled the encounter, leading to the fatal confrontation. It said its ruling was based on the “totality” of the circumstances, not just the moment when force was used.
Wampler’s partner, Antonio Villegas, was found to have been much less culpable, with the panel objecting to his initial decision to draw his weapon early in the confrontation but upholding his decision to fire at Ford to protect Wampler.
Police said the officers approached Ford for acting suspiciously, and he lunged at one of them and began trying to grab Wampler’s weapon.
More than a dozen protesters disrupted the Police Commission Tuesday to demand Wampler and Villegas be arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of Ford.
Police Commission President Steve Soboroff halted the meeting, citing disruption from members of Black Lives Matter and other activists in the audience during public comment.
The protesters refused to leave the board room for about 15 minutes during which they chanted “Justice for Ezell Ford,” with individual protesters verbally confronting a line of police officers at the front of the room.
One protester, 11-year-old Thandiwe Abdullah, addressed the officers, saying “I live in fear of you,” adding that she could be killed by “any one of you.”
The protesters eventually agreed to leave the meeting after an LAPD lieutenant declared the protest an “unlawful assembly,” but said they wanted to first deliver three “subpoenas” to Beck and officers Wampler and Villegas.
Black Lives Matter member Anthony Ratcliff, one of the people who delivered the subpoenas, said activists demand that the officers and Beck attend a Nov. 14 “people’s liberation tribunal,” where members of the community will give testimony about their interactions with the police.
Beck and the officers were not at the meeting, but Commission Executive Director Richard Tefank said he would accept the subpoenas and give them over to the city attorney. Tefank said Beck was on vacation.
Black Lives Matter activist Melina Abdullah again repeated the call for Wampler and Villegas to be fired, saying that they should not be on active duty after the police commission concluded that one of the officers acted improperly when he shot Ford.
Ford’s family filed a federal civil rights and wrongful death lawsuit last September against the LAPD, alleging Ford was shot in the back as he lay on the ground.
Craig Lally, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, said the union supported Beck’s findings that both officers involved in the shooting were justified and their actions were in policy.
“Chief Beck’s findings were based on facts presented and his over 40 years of law enforcement,” Lally said in a statement released after the police commission’s decision. “Every day, LAPD officers are put directly in harm’s way as they face complex situations, unthinkable dangers and split-second decisions all in an effort to protect the citizens of Los Angeles. On the other hand, we are extremely disappointed in the findings of the Police Commission.”
Lally contended the commission’s initial ruling was swayed by protesters and external political influences, “resulting in a determination that was purely political and self-serving. We believe the commission’s decision was irresponsible and reckless and was solely made to avoid civil unrest.”