Los Angeles Police Department Headquarters. Photo by John Schreiber.
Los Angeles Police Department Headquarters. Photo by John Schreiber.

The Los Angeles Police Department’s inspector general issued a call on Tuesday for witnesses of the fatal police shooting of Ezell Ford in South Los Angeles to come forward.

“As the inspector general, I am responsible for ensuring that all investigations in officer-involved shootings are done thoroughly and impartially,” Alexander Bustamante said. “I report only to the civilian-led Police Commission. I do not answer or report to the chief of police or his staff.

“I have the authority to look into every aspect of this shooting and get the necessary statements, documents and evidence from the Los Angeles Police Department, and I will,” he said. “To get a complete picture of the events of that night, however, I need witness to come forward.”

Ford, 25, was shot at 8:10 p.m. Aug. 11 in the 200 block of West 65th Street in South Los Angeles.

Police said Officers Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas were approaching Ford, who was making “suspicious movements,” when he turned and “grabbed one of the officers.”

“During the struggle, they fell to the ground and the individual (Ford) tried to remove the officer’s handgun from its holster,” according to the Los Angeles Police Department. “The partner officer then fired his handgun and the officer on the ground fired his backup weapon at the individual.”

Ford was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The shooting touched off protests and calls for a speedy and transparent investigation. Activists have contended that eyewitnesses dispute the police account of events.

“They said that Ford was not resisting, that he had mental challenges and that police officers in the area were well aware of him and his condition,” Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable President Earl Ofari Hutchinson said following Ford’s death.

Bustamante said his office has been trying to obtain witness statements and any video of the confrontation that might exist.

“For whatever reason, although many individuals have indicated that multiple witnesses exist, only a single witness has come forward with information regarding this case,” Bustamante said. “My office needs all the information that exists so that a thorough investigation can be conducted and the actual facts of the incident can be determined.”

Bustamante said witness who do not wish to speak to the LAPD can contact his office directly at (213) 482-6833 or by email at communityrelationsoig@lacity.org.

City News Service

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