Mother of Ezell Ford hopes for Justice Department inquiry of LAPD shooting

Mother of Ezell Ford hopes for Justice Department inquiry of LAPD shooting
About a dozen protesters march Saturday along Broadway after gathering near the site where Ezell Ford was shot by Los Angeles police officers in South L.A. last year. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

Ezell Ford's mother told demonstrators Saturday that she hopes the U.S. Department of Justice will look into her son's fatal shooting because she had no confidence in the review led by Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck and the department's independent watchdog.

"This needs to go to a higher authority," Tritobia Ford said.


The rebuke came after The Times reported that Beck and Alex Bustamante, the Los Angeles Police Department's inspector general, had determined that two officers were justified when they shot Ezell Ford, a mentally ill 25-year-old black man, in South Los Angeles last year.

"I'm livid. I'm mad. I'm hurt," said Ford's mother, wearing a pink shirt with the words "Save Black Boys," on Saturday.

She spoke to about a dozen protesters gathered at South Broadway and West 65th Street, near the site of the shooting, and lamented that more had not gathered.

"I guess everyone has their own problems to think about," she said.

Mahalia Clark, Ezell Ford's great aunt, said she worried that the finding by Beck and Bustamante would give a "green light" to similar shootings.

"Decisions like this give the next cop reason to do the same thing in the future," she said.

Protesters then marched on Broadway, stopping traffic. Police cruisers trailed a short distance behind them.

According to two sources who spoke with The Times, department investigators found evidence indicating that Ford had fought for control of one officer's gun, bolstering claims the officers made after the Aug. 11 shooting.

Ford and one of the officers, Sharlton Wampler, had scratches on their hands, and the holster for Wampler's gun was scratched, the sources said. Tests also found Ford's DNA on the weapon, they said.

The shooting occurred after Wampler and his partner saw Ford walking down a street near his home. Though Bustamante found the use of force justified, he said it was unclear whether the officers were justified in approaching and attempting to detain Ford.

"If there was no reason to stop him, then there was no reason to shoot him," Ford's mother said.

The Police Commission, a civilian panel that oversees the LAPD and makes the final ruling on uses of force, is scheduled to discuss the shooting in private on Tuesday.

Ford said she would not attend, adding: "I don't think I can stomach it."


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