Los Angeles — After four months and an order from a mayor responding to pressure from protests organized by groups like “Community Control Over the Police” and “Black Lives Matter,” an autopsy report was finally released by the Los Angeles Police Department. The report makes civilian witness accounts of the police killing of 25-year-old Ezell Ford, an African American, more credible than the official police version. The killing looks more and more like an execution by the LAPD, occurring Aug. 11, just two days after the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.
The LA Times reported that the autopsy information that was released Dec. 29, just two days before Mayor Eric Garcetti’s deadline for the cops’ report, showed that Mr. Ford was shot three times: once in the right side, once in the right arm and once in the back at close range. The Ford family and their attorney argued that the report showed the shooting was unjustified.
Immediately after the shooting of Ezell Ford, witnesses were reportedly contradicting the police assertion that the shooting was the result of a struggle in which Ford allegedly grabbed for one of the officers’ guns. Dorene Henderson, interviewed by the LA Times, witnessed part of the incident and “saw no struggle between the officers and Ford.” Henderson said that neighbors began yelling at the officers: “He’s got mental problems.” (Aug. 15)
Ford’s parents said he was diagnosed with depression and later schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Another witness told the Times: “They laid him out and for whatever reason, they shot him in the back, knowing mentally, he has complications. Every officer in this area, from the Newton Division, knows that. The excessive force … there was no purpose for it. The multiple shootings in the back while he’s laying down? No. Then when the mom comes, they don’t try to console her … they pull the billy clubs out.” (Aug. 15)
In response to the police report, Black Lives Matter set up an occupation of the LAPD headquarters right across the street from the previous occupation of City Hall. This reporter went to that site to get reactions to the report. Jhsun Edmonds, one of the occupiers, responding to the fact that Mr. Ford — like Michael Brown and many other victims of racist police killings — had medical attention delayed by the cops after the shooting, said: “It’s almost like the old days with a lynching, and you allow the body of the victim to be out there as a sign to others. It’s used as a terrorist tactic to strike fear in the community, like putting a head on top of a spear.”
Melina Abdullah, a leading organizer of Black Lives Matter in Los Angeles, said that they were willing to “stay out indefinitely.” Responding to the autopsy report, she said: “They murdered Ezell Ford probably laying face down in the street with a point blank shot to the back. I think police who kill people shouldn’t be allowed to be on the payroll and walk the streets … It’s now January 4th, so Ezell Ford was killed 5 months ago. Those police officers have been on paid vacation for all of that time and that can’t happen any more. So, we’re going to be here as long as it takes for them to be fired.”
“We call ourselves Black Lives Matter,” she continued. “But for us to assert that Black lives matter and for that to be a radical statement is hugely problematic because, of course Black lives matter… but the state itself is sanctioning our murder so we have to push back against a state that doesn’t see our lives as valuable and even more, sees us as targets or prey.”
Amari Shakur has also been braving the temperatures of 40 to 30 degrees, very cold for southern California. “I’m out here because I’m tired of the police coming into our communities and killing us. They always have an excuse for killing unarmed Black men. In the case of Mike Brown, he was actually 145 feet away when Darren Wilson shot him with his hands up. It has to stop … Yes, it’s been cold, but I’m out here for justice. I want to see these officers either charged or fired.”