The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has concluded that its officers are not guilty in the fatal shooting of a mentally ill black man.
The Los Angeles police chief and his department’s watchdog have found the shooting of 25-year-old Ezell Ford by two white officers last year was justified, a department source said on Friday night.
However, the findings by police chief Charlie Beck and Alex Bustamante, the Los Angeles Police Department’s inspector general, are only recommendations to the Police Commission, which will decide after a hearing next week whether the shooting of Ford was according to department policy.
Ford was walking down a street near his South Los Angeles home as he was shot dead by Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas on August 11, 2014.
The officers initially justified the killing by claiming that Ford had reached for one of their guns.
The LAPD investigators found evidence showing that both Ford and Wampler had scratches on their hands, indicating physical struggle.
It was also discovered that the holster for Wampler’s gun was scratched and Ford’s DNA was found on it.
Despite the new findings, the LAPD has never explained the reason Ford was approached by the officers, although unofficial sources close to the investigation said the officers said they suspected Ford of possessing narcotics.
Earlier this week, Ford’s mother said that she wanted the US Justice Department to launch an inquiry into his son’s death.
“Why didn’t they just allow him to keep walking? He wasn’t doing anything. He wasn’t committing any crime. He wasn’t bothering anybody, he was minding his own business,” she added.
Ford’s death sparked public outrage and protests against police brutality.
The fatal shooting occurred only two days after Michael Brown’s death, who was shot to death in Ferguson. His death resulted in widespread protests all over the United States.
Autopsy reports show that Ford, diagnosed with bipolar schizophrenia, was shot three times from a close range with one of the bullets hitting him in the back, causing a fatal wound.
According to official reports by the department, last year LAPD officers killed 18 people.