At the conclusion of a public hearing on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Police Commission found one of the two officers involved in the shooting death of Ezell Ford last August acted “out of policy. The ruling was initially met with confusion by people in attendance, including several members of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles.
Dr. Melina Abdullah, a professor at California State University, Los Angeles and a member of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, attended the police commission’s public hearing.
“It sounded like nothing was going to be done. They kept saying, ‘No further action,’ and then as the meeting adjourned, there was an eruption,” Abdullah said.
Dozens of spectators began shouting as the police commission convened. However, vice president of the police commission, Paula Madison, came back to explain to the crowd the decision.
“What you were looking for, you got,” Madison said. “A level of discussion has occurred that did not occur prior to today.”
Madison added that one officer acted “in policy” the other acted “out of policy.”
According to Tami Catania, spokesperson for the police commission, all names of the involved officers are redacted in the ruling. However, media reports have named Sharlton Wampler as the officer who acted out of policy.
Catania said the commission can rule in three areas, tactics, drawing of a weapon and the actual use of the weapon.
“For one officer, it was determined that he acted out of policy for all three items. For the other officer, he acted out of policy in the drawing of his weapon, so that’s one out of three,” Catania said.
The police commission’s ruling was only administrative, she said. Next, the ruling will go to Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck who will decide whether or not to seek disciplinary action against the officers. However, it is up to the Los Angeles County District Attorney to determine if charges will be filed against the officers.
Abdullah said it is an important gesture that Madison met with the crowd to better explain the ruling.
“Once it was explained that we won a small victory, we were stunned,” Abdullah said.
The police commission’s ruling contradicted Beck’s earlier comments that both officers acted appropriately due to Ford posing a life-threatening danger.
On Aug. 11, LAPD officers Wampler and Antonio Villegas, of the Newton Police Division, stopped Ford as he was walking in South Los Angeles. A confrontation ensued and police officers opened fire on Ford, who was unarmed. According to police, Ford attempted to grab Wampler’s gun. Ford was shot three times, with two fatal shots to the right and back, and at least one of the shots being close enough to leave a muzzle imprint, according to the autopsy report.
In a public statement released Tuesday after the ruling, Beck said he respected the commission’s ruling.
“The LAPD is known throughout the country for its exceptional thoroughness and expertise in investigating officer involved shootings. Those investigations go through multiple levels of review culminating in a final decision by the police commission,” Beck said in the statement.
Last Sunday, Black Lives Matter Los Angeles protesters gathered in front of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s house in Hancock Park to pressure the mayor to fire Beck. Protesters camped in front of Garcetti’s home until Tuesday morning when they left to attend the Los Angeles Police Commission hearing.
Kwazi Nkrumah, member of the Martin Luther King Coalition and president of the Greater Elysian Echo Park Neighborhood Council, joined the protesters on Sunday and Monday.
“We have such a high number of killings in the city [by police]. There were 625 in Los Angeles since 2000. This may be the highest police killings in all of the U.S. And this is when the LAPD is being held up in some type of model of police force? It brings up extreme contradictions,” Nkrumah said.
Mark-Anthony Johnson, director of health and wellness with Dignity & Power Now and a member of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, said the mayor has been silent on police brutality against African Americans, including Ford.
“Los Angeles is one of the deadliest cities when it comes to police encounters in the nation. That falls on the mayor. The mayor appoints the chief. Black folks in particular are disproportionally killed in law enforcement interactions,” Johnson said.
Abdullah said she is hopeful that justice will be attained by the Ford family and communities affected by police brutality.
“I think we are awakening to our own power. When we speak up, people can hear us. The victory that we won [Tuesday] translated into real substantive change,” Abdullah said.
Abdullah and Black Lives Matter Los Angeles continue to call for their demands to be met, which include the firing of officers Wampler and Villegas, as well as the removal of Beck.
“We’re always hopeful. But more than hope, however, is recognizing that we have to stay engaged and create the pressure, and let them know that we are watching,” Abdullah said.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.