The long-awaited autopsy for a mentally ill black man killed in August by police in South Los Angeles was released Monday, revealing the man was shot three times, once in the back at close range.
The autopsy also showed that 25-year-old Ezell Ford was shot once in the right side and once in the right arm. The gunshot wounds to his back and abdomen were fatal, authorities say.
Monday’s release was the first time details regarding Ford’s wounds were provided to the public. His autopsy has been on hold since his Aug. 11 death — police argued the hold was due to an ongoing investigation. In November, however, Mayor Eric Garcetti demanded police release the autopsy results before the end of the year.
In addition to numbering the amount of times Ford was shot, the autopsy suggested that he was shot at very close range. The gunshot wound to his back showed the skin had a “muzzle imprint.”
It does not, however, provide a narrative of what occurred that summer day, although LAPD Chief Charlie Beck suggested that nothing in the report is inconsistent with the account provided by the officers involved.
From the Los Angeles Times:
Beck said the officers had gotten out of their car to speak to Ford but that the 25-year-old walked away. Beck said the officers followed Ford to a nearby driveway, where Ford crouched between a car and some bushes. When one of the officers reached toward Ford, the chief said, he grabbed the officer and forced him to the ground.
Beck said Ford pinned the officer to the ground and tried to remove his handgun from his holster. The officer yelled to his partner that Ford had his gun, Beck said, prompting the officer’s partner to fire two rounds that hit Ford.
The third gunshot came when the officer on the ground grabbed his backup weapon, reached around Ford and fired a close-range shot that struck him in the back.
But the witnesses that have come forward gave a different account. A friend of Ford’s family told the Los Angeles Times that she did not see a struggle, despite the officers’ account.
Following Ford’s death, his parents filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the LAPD, accusing them of racially profiling their son.
Ford’s parents, Edsell and Tritobia Ford, are suing the city of Los Angeles and the police department for $75 million. The Fords claim that the officers racially profiled their son, who they said was not committing a crime at the time. The family also said in their complaint that the officers knew Ford was mentally ill and were “reckless and acted with callous indifference.” According to his family, Ford suffered from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression.
Monday’s delayed release also promoted demonstrations denouncing police violence. Small groups of protesters gathered in front of the LAPD’s headquarters to protest in Ford’s name.
— Brittny Mejia (@brittny_mejia) December 30, 2014
The officers — Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas — have been placed on non-field duties. Beck insisted that the investigation into Ford’s death was far from over.
“Let the system work,” he said. “We will find out the truth of what happened on that August night.”
We’ll keep you updated with the latest.