Civil rights leaders seek witnesses in Ezell Ford shooting

"People are reluctant to come forward because they fear the police."

Civil rights leaders will be handing out fliers Saturday near the South Los Angeles intersection where police shot and killed an unarmed black man earlier this month, imploring eyewitnesses to come forward.

Conflicting accounts have emerged about the Aug. 11 shooting of Ezell Ford, a 25-year-old mentally ill African American man. The shooting occurred near the corner of 65th Street and Broadway.

Police say say a preliminary investigation of the incident shows officers shot Ford during an altercation during which Ford reached for one of their guns. But some witnesses said they saw no struggle between Ford and the officers.

Civil rights activist Earl Ofari Hutchinson says it's essential that more people who saw the shooting share what they saw.

"This investigation cannot be fair and impartial unless witnesses are willing to come forward to give their testimony," he said. 

Ofari Hutchinson said many people in the neighborhood may be wary of contradicting police reports. "People are reluctant to come forward because they fear the police," he said. 

The shooting two weeks ago has led to renewed complaints that LAPD officers mistreat minorities in South L.A. 

Ford's death, which came amid rioting in Ferguson, Mo., over the police shooting of an 18-year-old unarmed black man there, also prompted protest in Los Angeles, albeit on a smaller and more peaceful scale. 

Funeral services were held for Ford on Saturday at First AME Church in South Los Angeles. The Rev. Cecil "Chip" Murray delivered the eulogy.

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