An otherwise routine Los Angeles Police Commission meeting Tuesday was punctuated by anger from dozens of demonstrators, part of ongoing protests against the LAPD after recent officer-involved deaths.
The weekly meetings of the civilian board that oversees the LAPD are attended primarily by top brass and some rank-and-file officers. But on Tuesday, protesters packed the room, demanding everything from greater transparency to complete civilian control over the LAPD.
"You have a growing legitimacy problem," one woman told the commission.
The demands echoed those that have been made during numerous LAPD-related demonstrations in recent weeks, part of a national backlash against police after several high-profile officer-involved killings. In L.A., the August deaths of Ezell Ford and Omar Abrego in South Los Angeles have amplified the demonstrations.
Tuesday's commission meeting was the first since the Dec. 29 release of Ford's autopsy. The LAPD has been criticized over his Aug. 11 fatal shooting, including its four-month delay in releasing the coroner's report.
Abrego died Aug. 3, about 12 hours after a physical altercation with two LAPD sergeants. His autopsy results have not yet been made public.
Several people at the meeting called for criminal charges to be filed against the two officers who shot Ford, as well as their dismissal from the department. One woman, who identified herself as a friend of Ford's, broke down in tears as she addressed the commission.
"Today, we need some answers. You guys have to change things. You cannot keep killing people," she said. "We all have pain in our hearts. We all are angry right now.... We need to stop this."
There were also tense moments. At one point, an African American man repeatedly shouted a racial slur at Paula Madison, the commission's only black member, and called LAPD Chief Charlie Beck a coward. Some people in the crowd applauded.
At the end of the meeting, the crowd filed out of the room to a call-and-response: "Black lives, they matter where? Black lives, they matter here." The group then stood outside LAPD headquarters, chanting the names of people killed by police and chalking anti-police messages on the sidewalk.
Beck did not speak to reporters after the meeting. Cmdr. Andrew Smith, a department spokesman, said the weekly commission meetings provided a chance for the public to address the chief with any complaint.
"They're allowed to say what's on their mind," Smith said. "This is the opportunity for them to do that."
Smith acknowledged the meeting ended on an unusual note but said officers had experienced similar anger from protesters in recent weeks.
"I've not heard a meeting end like that," he said. "But listening to the folks in front of the building and the slurs that they call out at our officers, and the names they call our officers, and the derogatory things they say towards our police, it's not surprising."