Ezell Ford, a 25-year-old black man described by his family as having “mental problems,” was shot and killed by a Los Angeles, California police officer Monday evening, barely 48 hours after an unarmed black man in Missouri suffered the same fate.
The Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement on Tuesday that officers had conducted an “investigative stop” the night prior, during which the suspect — later identified as Ford — reportedly engaged in an altercation with the cops, according to the LAPD.
“During the stop a struggle ensued, which resulted in an officer-involved-shooting,” the LAPD said in Tuesday’s statement. “The suspect was transported to a local hospital and after lifesaving efforts he succumbed to his injuries.”
According to the victim’s family, Ford was complying with officers at the time of the shooting, and was killed while facedown before the police. USA Today reported that Ford was unarmed.
“They laid him out and for whatever reason, they shot him in the back, knowing mentally, he has complications,” an unnamed man who identified himself as the victim’s cousin told local station KTLA News. “Every officer in this area, from the Newton Division, knows that — that this child has mental problems,” he said. “The excessive force … there was no purpose for it. The multiple shootings in the back while he’s laying down? No.”
According to the cousin, the victim’s mother was met with police brandishing nightsticks when she arrived on the scene.
“Then when the mom comes, they don’t try to console her … they pull the billy clubs out,” he said.
“My heart is so heavy,” the mother, Tritobia Ford, told KTLA News. “My son was a good kid. He didn’t deserve to die the way he did.”
“All we want to know is why they did it,” Ezell Ford Sr. added.
KTLA reported that police were initially behaving “tight-lipped” with regards to disclosing further details, because of a “gathering” at the scene in the wake of the shooting. On Sunday, an event advertised as being a “protest against the murder” of Ford is scheduled to occur outside of LAPD headquarters in downtown Los Angeles.
Ford’s death occurred barely 48 hours after police in the small town of Ferguson, Missouri opened fire and killed Michael Brown, a black teenager who was reportedly unarmed at the time of the incident. Massive protests — and at times, violent ones — have occurred in the days since, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation has since opened up a probe into the incident.
In California, the LAPD said that a thorough investigation will be conducted internally, then reviewed by the chief of police, the Office of the Inspector General and Board of Police Commissioners. Additionally, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Justice System Integrity Division will conduct a comprehensive investigation of its own, the LAPD reported.
The Homicide Report, an online database maintained by the Los Angeles Times, suggests that at least 303 people have died as a result of officer-involved shootings in the area since 2007. Meanwhile, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck was appointed on Tuesday this week to his second, five-year stint at the helm of that agency. The decision to keep Beck in charge of one of the nation’s largest police forces was made just one day after the LAPD’s civilian watchdog told the Los Angeles Times that he’d be launching an investigation into the accuracy of the agency’s crime statistics after a report by the paper revealed that that police in LA misclassified nearly 1,200 violent crimes as minor offenses during a one-year span ending in September 2013.