Some major decisions must now be made in the case of two LAPD gang unit members who shot and killed 25 year old Ezell Ford during a ‘consensual stop’ in a drug infested area of South Los Angeles last August.
According to an article in the LA Times, A 43-page report released by a civilian commission suggested a deep divide in how civilians and those in uniform assessed the legitimacy of stopping and questioning the mentally troubled Ford as he walked along a residential street at dusk on Aug. 11.
Police Chief Charlie Beck must decide what measures will now be taken against the two officers.
After reviewing the officer’s statements, Beck determined that they had “reasonable suspicion” to believe Ford was committing a crime or about to commit a crime — the legal standard to detain someone. According to the Times article, Beck had recommended that the officers be cleared, saying they were justified in opening fire on Ford, as he struggled for one of their guns.
The five-member commission rejected Beck’s findings on Tuesday, arguing that because of the “legally inappropriate detention” of Ford, the shooting that followed was unreasonable.
The article states that the commissioners’ ruling represented a significant break from past investigations of deadly police encounters. Instead of just focusing narrowly on the officers’ fears at the moment they pulled their triggers, the panel this time considered the entire interaction between Ford and the officers.
In an interview with The Times on Wednesday, Beck acknowledged that the commission’s ruling reflected a “new interpretation” of the policies governing use of force.
This shift comes amid a national debate over use of force, particularly on African Americans. The commission’s action in the Ford case met with cheers from civil rights advocates.
According to CBS Los Angeles, many in the LAPD rank-and-file accused the civilian police panel of caving in to an anti-police climate following controversial shootings of black men in Ferguson, Mo., and other cities around the country.
The L.A. County District Attorney has issued a statement confirming her office is reviewing the Ford case to determine whether they should file criminal charges.