Two LAPD officers who fatally shot a man have filed a lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles, saying that they have been denied promotion and other opportunities due to racial discrimination and retaliation by superiors.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Officers Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas claim that they did not do anything wrong in the August 2014 killing of 25-year-old Ezell Ford in South LA, though since then, they have been denied opportunities for advancement and confined to desk duty because of racial issues.
Ford was a bipolar-schizophrenic African-American who had allegedly attacked Wampler and tried to grab his service pistol, resulting in Villegas firing two shots and Wampler shooting Ford in the back with his backup pistol.
Wampler and Villegas -who are described in the lawsuit as Caucasian and Latino, respectively (although the LAPD documents Wampler as an Asian)- were members of the LAPD’s anti-gang unit and were found by LAPD Chief Charlie Beck to have acted within department policy. Furthermore, investigators found Ford’s DNA on Wampler’s weapon, as well as scratch marks on Wampler’s holster and hand.
However, a civilian panel that oversees the LAPD rejected Beck’s findings nearly a year later, determining that Wampler violated the department’s deadly force policy. The panel commissioners concluded that Wampler never actually had an adequate reason to stop Ford, let alone allow it to escalate. In the eyes of the commission, Wampler’s handling of the situation was fatally flawed and ultimately lead to the bloodshed.
Meanwhile, Villegas was only chastised for drawing his weapon too early, though he was justified in shooting Ford to protect Wampler. Nearly three years later, the District Attorney has yet to announce whether or not charges will be filed.
In the lawsuit, the officers objected to the ruling by “an inexperienced group of political appointees” and persisted in their innocence. To top it off, they expressed issues with a black officer who was involved in an “out-of-policy” shooting who was later assigned a “highly sought after” position in the LAPD Metro Division.
“Clearly, there is a different standard of discipline meted out to officers solely on account of their race and color of their skin,” the suit states.
The lawsuit seeks lost income from denial of patrol bonuses as well as damages for physical, mental and emotional injuries.
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