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No charges against 2 LAPD officers for killing black man

25 January 2017 14:28

 

Two US police officers in Los Angeles, California, who fatally shot a mentally-ill unarmed black man in 2014 will not be criminally charged, prosecutors say.

Ezell Ford, 25, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, was walking near his home in southern Los Angeles when he was shot multiple times by Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas, two officers with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).

He was shot on suspicion that he was trying to dispose of something illegal. The officers later claimed that Ford had reached for one of their guns.

On Tuesday, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey dropped the charges against the officers, saying they were legally justified in the shooting.

“The question is did they honestly believe that Mr. Ford was about to take out the gun and shoot them, and there [are] a lot of facts that indicate that they did,” Lacey said in an interview.

“This was not some officer who deliberately took out a gun and said, ‘I’m going to shoot Mr. Ford.’ This was a struggle on the ground, for a couple of minutes, that was very tense,” she added.

Tritobia Ford, the mother of Ezell Ford, speaks at a news conference on January 24, 2017. (Photo via Los Angeles Times)

The decision, however, has disappointed the victim’s lawyer and family. Ford’s mother called the shooting unjustified.

“The last bit of hope that we had is crushed,” Tritobia Ford told reporters.“These officers are going scot-free. They’re getting away with murder. There’s no justice for Ezell.”

US police have been under mounting criticism over racial profiling and use of excessive force against people of color.

Ford’s death generated controversy and sparked criticism over how officers interact with residents in African American and Latino communities.

The incident took place days after Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri was shot and killed by officers. His death also led to a series of Black Lives Matter protests in Los Angeles and in other cities across the US.

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