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Ezell Ford's family holds memorial a year after his death

Ezell Ford's family holds memorial a year after his death
Friends and family members attend memorial service Saturday for Ezell Ford at Inglewood Park Cemetery. (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)

The family of Ezell Ford, whose fatal shooting became a local rallying cry against police killings, held a memorial service Saturday afternoon to observe the one-year anniversary of his death.

The service was held at Inglewood Park Cemetery and attended by friends and family.

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The 25-year-old African American man, who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, was killed during a confrontation with Los Angeles police officers on Aug. 11, 2014.

Ford was walking down a gang-plagued, drug-infested block with his hands in his pockets when he was stopped by police.

LAPD Officer Sharlton Wampler said he got into a life-and-death struggle with Ford, who was wrestling over the officer's gun. Fearing Ford would get control of the weapon, Wampler pulled out a backup gun from beneath his back and fired a fatal shot into Ford's back.

The account prompted Chief Charlie Beck to conclude Wampler was justified in opening fire. He maintained that Wampler and his partner, Antonio Villegas, had a "reasonable suspicion" to believe Ford was committing a crime or about to commit a crime when he was detained.

But the city's Police Commission rejected Beck's finding. The panel found that Ford was doing nothing wrong and should have been left alone.

The commission ruled that because of the officers' "legally inappropriate detention" of Ford, the shooting that followed was unreasonable.

The commissioners' ruling represented a significant break from past investigations of deadly police encounters. They considered the entire interaction between Ford and the officers, rather than focusing narrowly on the officers' fears.

The shift came amid a national debate about police use of force, particularly on African Americans.

Ford died two days after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., prompting nationwide demonstrations and a national conversation about race and policing.

A march in memory of Brown took place Saturday in St. Louis.

Follow @ByMattStevens for coverage of the California drought, the Westside and breaking news.

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