LAPD officers Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas will not be charged for the death of Ezell Ford, a mentally ill African American man. Ezell died after the police officers used deadly force to detain him.
According to the LA Times,
Department investigators found evidence indicating that Ford had fought for control of one officer’s gun, bolstering claims the officers made after the shooting, said two sources who spoke on the condition that they not be identified because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the case.
Ford and one of the officers, Sharlton Wampler, had scratches on their hands, and the holster for Wampler’s gun was scratched as well, the sources said. Tests found Ford’s DNA on the weapon, according to the sources.
However, neither Wampler or Villegas ever explained why they approached Ford in the first place.
Alex Bustamante, the Los Angeles Police Department’s inspector general, found the shooting justified, but he faulted the officers for how they approached Ford in the moments leading up to the shooting, according to the sources.
LAPD officials have never offered an explanation for why the officers stopped the 25-year-old Ford, but the sources said that the officers told investigators they decided to detain him because they believed Ford was trying to discard narcotics as he walked. The department has never publicly said whether narcotics were found.
Bustamante concluded in his report to the Police Commission that it was unclear whether the officers’ observations were sufficient justification to approach Ford and then try to detain him, the sources said.
And as the officers reached Ford, Wampler put his hands on him — a move that Bustamante found unacceptable. Department protocols instruct officers in such situations to address a suspect from a position of safety, such as behind an open car door.