Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is facing criticism for what some say is an inappropriately muted response to the latest developments in the case of Ezell Ford, a mentally ill black man shot to death by police officers in South Los Angeles last summer.
The Los Angeles Times reported Friday that Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck and Alex Bustamante, the department’s independent watchdog, have found that the two officers who shot Ford were justified in using deadly force. The Police Commission, the civilian board that oversees the LAPD, is scheduled to make a final determination on the shooting Tuesday.
At a protest Sunday, Ford's mother, Tritobia Ford, told KABC-TV that the mayor had not been proactive in dealing with her family or leading a public debate about the incident.
"In other cities, you see the mayor come forward and he speaks of what's going on, the issues that's going on," Tritobia Ford said. "I've seen the mayor dancing with Beyoncé and doing all kinds of other stuff."
Garcetti staffers declined to comment when contacted by The Times on Sunday. At 4:54 a.m. Monday, mayoral spokesman Jeff Millman emailed reporters a written statement attributed to Garcetti.
"Last night I called Ms. Tritobia Ford. I didn't reach her but left a message, telling her my heart goes out to her and her grieving family, as it has since the news first broke last August. I look forward to meeting with her in the coming days," the statement read.
Also on Monday morning, Garcetti had an awkward encounter with activists outside his Hancock Park mansion.
In a video shot by a demonstrator and posted to YouTube, the mayor can be seen walking away from about a dozen protesters and entering a black SUV parked on a side street behind his house. Off-camera, someone shouts, "Why are you sneaking out the back door?"
A second video posted online shows the mayor, seated inside the vehicle, conversing with demonstrators for several minutes through a rolled-down passenger window.
In the video, protesters are blocking the SUV's path and Garcetti is seen pleading with them to move so he can catch a plane to Washington, D.C., saying he is traveling to the capital to try to secure federal funding to combat homelessness.
"I have to go to Washington right now. This is prescheduled," Garcetti says through the window.
"You always run," a demonstrator retorts.
Only after police officers intervened did demonstrators let the vehicle proceed.
In response to questions from the Times, Millman said Monday that the mayor was in Washington "meeting with federal officials to discuss the funding for Los Angeles programs."
Millman did not respond to questions about what those programs were and said the mayor would not be available until Tuesday to speak about the Ford case.
In November, Garcetti ordered the Police Department to release Ford's autopsy before the end of the year. Beck and other department officials said they were withholding the document until investigators could speak to more witnesses, but the mayor said the autopsy's disclosure was "important for the family" and "important for the community."
Police have never offered an explanation for why officers stopped Ford as he was walking down the street near his home in South L.A. After the stop, a struggle ensued and the officers shot Ford to death. Investigators later found evidence Ford was trying to grab an officer's gun, sources have told the Times.