More than two weeks after the police shooting of a mentally ill man in South Los Angeles, LAPD officials released Thursday the names of two officers involved in the deadly shooting.
The department identified the officers who shot Ezell Ford on Aug. 11 as Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas, who are both assigned to the Newton Division gang enforcement detail.
LAPD records show Wampler has been on the force for 12 years and Villegas for eight years.
The decision to release the names came after some South L.A. residents and others who criticized the department for not releasing the names soon after the shooting. Department officials said they were waiting to decide whether to make the names public while investigators conducted a "threat assessment" to evaluate whether any credible threats had been made to the officers’ safety.
The California Supreme Court recently ruled that police departments must generally provide the names of officers involved in shootings, unless they can demonstrate there are credible threats to the officers' safety.
"In this particular case, it was necessary to investigate evidence brought to the department's attention regarding potential threats to the safety of the officers and ensure that measures were taken to mitigate those threats," the LAPD said in a statement naming the officers on Thursday.
Police have also placed a security hold on Ford's autopsy to prevent coroner's officials from publicly releasing information about Ford’s wounds. Officials have also declined to provide information about why the officers approached Ford as he was walking home along West 65th Street near Broadway.
Police say Ford, 25, tackled one of the officers and reached for his gun, prompting both officers to open fire. A witness who saw part of the incident told The Times she saw no struggle.
Ford’s death came just two days after an 18-year-old black man was shot and killed in Ferguson, Mo. In contrast to peaceful protests in Los Angeles after Ford's death, Michael Brown's death sparked days of violence in Missouri and nationwide scrutiny of police behavior.
Ferguson police identified the officer involved in that shooting on Aug. 15, six days after Brown was killed.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times