Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Thursday that he had ordered police to allow the release soon of an autopsy report on a mentally ill man fatally shot by officers three months ago.
Garcetti made a surprise appearance Thursday at an LAPD news conference, telling reporters the autopsy on 25-year-old Ezell Ford Jr. would be released by the end of the year. LAPD officials have placed a security hold on the results, preventing coroner's officials from making their report public.
"I am ordering the results of this autopsy be released," Garcetti said. "I think that is important for the family, that is important for the community, that is important for our city as well as our department."
Flanked by Garcetti, Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey and other city officials, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said investigators were still trying to track down witnesses to the Aug. 11 shooting. The hold on the autopsy, he said, was intended to ensure the accuracy of potential witness statements.
Beck said the autopsy contains "significant evidence that could add tremendous credibility" to whatever witnesses tell investigators.
The LAPD said in the days after the shooting that Ford was walking home on West 65th Street near Broadway when he was approached by two gang officers assigned to the LAPD's Newton Division. Police allege that Ford tackled one of the officers and reached for his gun, prompting both officers to open fire. But a witness who said she saw part of the incident told The Times she saw no struggle.
Some South L.A. residents say they are frustrated by how little information has been disclosed and accuse the department of failing to make good on Beck's promise of transparency after the killing of Ford and others. Last month, the South Central Neighborhood Council unanimously passed a resolution urging Councilman Curren Price to direct the LAPD to release Ford's autopsy report.
The neighborhood council's resolution says the lack of information surrounding the deaths "has led to increased concerns in our community that the LAPD is trying to conceal the truth of how these men died."
"The families and the community have a right to know how and why these men were killed," the resolution said.