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What Ezell Ford's death says about the way we treat mental illness

To the editor: Deciding between the mentally ill Ezell Ford and the Los Angeles Police Department officers who shot and killed him in August 2014 ignores the real problem. The police acted properly toward a man who they said was reaching for an officer's gun. ("LAPD finds officers were justified in fatal shooting of mentally ill man, sources say," June 5)

The real issue is the way we treat the mentally ill in our society.

When the police are confronted with out-of-control, mentally ill people, what can they do? A sick person can be quite dangerous. In California, we need to get back to the days when the mentally ill could be kept in custody and treated before being released on the streets.

Many homeless people are mentally ill. Where is the help for them?

Our lawmakers must recognize the problem, open up the hospitals and provide help for the mentally ill. Otherwise, these incidents will continue to happen.

Patricia LoVerme, South Pasadena

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To the editor: As noted in the front-page article about Ford's death, the officers involved in the shooting told investigators they decided to detain him because they believed he was trying to discard narcotics as he walked.

Huh? How could they conclude that whatever he might have had in his pockets was an illegal controlled substance?

Later in the article, attorney Larry Hanna is quoted as saying that "his clients had little choice but to make contact with Ford when they saw him turn away and appear to conceal something." This contradicts the officers' statement, as appearing to conceal something seems to be the opposite of trying to discard something.

In either case, Ford's act of merely turning away from the officers was insufficient to justify further action. No further police action, no shooting death.

Noel Johnson, Glendale

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