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The Los Angeles Police Department has released the names of the officers who fatally shot Ezell Ford in a South L.A. neighborhood two weeks ago.

Ford, who was described by his family as “mentally ill,” was unarmed at the time of the shooting.

“The Los Angeles Police officers involved in the use of lethal force in Newton Division on August 11, 2014 were Police Officer III Sharlton Wampler, Serial No. 36135, and Police Officer II Antonio Villegas, Serial No. 38218, both assigned to the Newton Area Gang Enforcement Detail,” a press statement issued by the LAPD late Thursday reads.

“The LAPD has a longstanding policy of releasing the names of officers involved in shootings after investigating evidence of threats that could jeopardize the personal safety of the officers or their families,” the statement continues. “In this particular case, it was necessary to investigate evidence brought to the Department’s attention regarding potential threats to the safety of the officers and ensure that measures were taken to mitigate those threats. In each incident, the Department carefully reviews and investigates potential threats against its personnel while maintaining its commitment to disclose appropriate information, such as the identities of officers involved in uses of lethal force, to the public.”

On Wednesday, blogger and political analyst Jasmyne Cannick leaked Wampler’s name — information she said came from a reliable source. A spokesperson for the police department declined to comment when asked by the Huffington Post whether the naming of Wampler the day before by Cannick prompted the department to finally release their identities.

Just last week, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck defended the delay in releasing the two officers’ identities, citing a fear of retaliation. In the two weeks since Ford’s death, residents of the Los Angeles area have taken to the streets to protest police discrimination and brutality, demanding the release of Wampler and Villegas’ names.

The department has also put an investigative hold on the coroner’s autopsy report — a delay that has sparked a distrust similar to those protesting unarmed teenager Michael Brown’s shooting death in Ferguson.

Putting a hold on an autopsy report is common in cases that are ongoing, LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith told local public radio station KPCC.

However, others saw the move as controversial. Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the civil rights community forum Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, questioned the LAPD’s decision.

“The blocking of the release [of the] Ford autopsy report further fuels suspicions about the LAPD’s version of the Ford killing,” Hutchinson said last week.

Steven Lerman, a lawyer for the Ford family, similarly cast doubt on the official explanation for withholding the autopsy results, telling HuffPost that he believes the police have delayed the report’s release for “political reasons.”

An investigation continues. We’ll keep you updated with the latest.

SOURCE: Huffington Post | PHOTO CREDIT: Handout

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