About Ezell Ford’s Autopsy Results

We’re not against the police. We’re not against the police department, but we are against police who commit misconduct (and those who help cover it up).

Every now and then I like to have a little fun–kind of like how Chief Charlie Beck did when he allowed me to be arrested the other night in downtown Los Angeles.  The photo above is what I like to imagine is Beck’s expression when goes online and reads my latest blog about #myLAPD. Lol.

But getting down to business…

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, in theory, has 30 days to release the autopsy record of 25-year-old Ezell Ford who was shot and killed on Aug. 11 by officers from the Newton Area Division of the LAPD. Notice, I did say in theory.

The mandate (but really more of a request) that the autopsy report be released before year’s end came from Mayor Eric Garcetti who like Beck and 9th District Councilmember Curren Price Jr., are under pressure from the community for answers after the Ford, who was Black, was found to be unarmed and identified as being mentally ill. Witnesses said he was shot in the back while lying on the ground and complying with officer’s orders.

The police say that during an “investigative stop,” a struggle ensued in which Ford “turned, grabbed one of the officers.” After that, “they fell to the ground,” and Ford allegedly attempted to pull an officer’s handgun from its holster. The “partner officer then fired his handgun and the officer on the ground fired his backup weapon” at Ford.

But here’s what you need to understand about police shootings that kill people involving the LAPD.

An autopsy report that involves a person who was shot to death is going to give you very basic information. Where the bullet went in and where it came out, if it did at all. The coroner only examines the ballistics and the point of entry and exit of the bullets.

Given family members statements that Ford had a history of mental illness the completed autopsy results could take longer because the coroner MIGHT try and see if they can prove that fact with their investigation by performing a brain tissue examination, conducting family history interviews, and looking at prior incidents related to his mental illness.

Unfortunately, the coroner does not determine if it was a bad shooting. No that’s the job of the LAPD’s Force Investigation Division, otherwise referred to as FID.

FID is responsible for the investigation of all incidents involving the use of deadly force by an LAPD officer.

FID conducts the entire investigation from ballistics, to the direction of the shooting, what type of weapon was used, the condition of the surroundings, witness interviews, forensic evidence, etc.

They follow this up with a complete walk through of the shooting with the officers involved, and in this case that would be officers Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas whom we first told you about back in August.

Oftentimes in a controversial highly publicized shooting there will be representatives from the District and City Attorney’s office and from the police union. Trust me that’s the case with this shooting.

The investigation will more than likely also be reviewed by the Department’s Use of Force unit who will review FID’s investigation, but only the part that pertains to the use of force utilized by the officer and not the legal or criminal aspect.

The FID will hand deliver the final investigation to Chief Beck who will ultimately decide what direction to go in. Beck will present the findings to the Police Commission. However, long before they ever get a hold of it a decision will have been made on the justification of the shooting by Beck. You can trust and believe that.

So at the end of the day all of this really falls on Chief Beck because he is really the one who has to judge the shooting—hence his unwillingness to have the autopsy report released. Dragging it out for as long as he can is in his best interest—especially if he is not going to call it a bad shooting.

I am almost sure that Chief Beck has seen the results of the autopsy and knows the direction of the FID’s investigation. He is after all the Chief of Police of the Los Angeles Police Department.

So while everyone is understandable awaiting the results and release of Ford’s autopsy record, that’s only tip of the iceberg.

Police Chief Beck, LAPD Inspector General Alex Bustamante and the Board of Police Commissioners will have the final say on whether it was a good or bad shooting (if you believe that there could ever be such a thing). They alone will verify whether the shooting fell within their own guidelines that mandate that use of force be “objectively reasonable.”  Not some piece of paper from the Medical Examiner’s office.  And that final decision on the shooting doesn’t have to come and probably won’t come when the autopsy report is released. Dragging this into 2015 as I am sure community activists and the Ford family are not going to drop the issue.

But in case you’re interested and I will assume that you are because you’re reading this—according to their website, Captain Robert A. Lopez is currently the Commanding Officer of the Department’s Force Investigation Division.

Captain Lopez, was promoted to the rank of Captain and assigned to Newton Patrol Division in May of 2010.

In addition, now seems like a good time to remind people that the Police Commission usually meets once a week on Tuesday at around 9:30 a.m. Chief Beck is usually in attendance. From what I am told there are usually plenty of seats available as the public, while they have a lot to say about the LAPD, rarely show up to put their concerns on the record.  The way I figure it, there’s plenty of pressure to go around.  Apply some there.

Now for my Angeleno’s anxiously awaiting this autopsy report, please don’t be surprised if it’s released just as night falls on December 24.  I mean this is the LAPD we are talking about and because the more you know…

The Court of Public Opinion

  • jubileeshine

    when lapd officer Garcia pumped 10 bullets into 13 year old devvin brown, the police commission ruled it “out of policy,” and *recommended* discipline of the officer, as the police commission has no authority over the officers. officer Garcia was brought before the secret, internal, lapd “board of rights,” which dismissed the police commission’s recommendation and let officer Garcia walk.
    the police commission is window dressing. as is any advisory police review board. we need democratic, community control over the police. all-elected, all-civilian, police control boards with full authority.

  • Karin Lease

    We have to let go of the idea that we, the citizens have rights in these shootings. Only the police have rights when it comes to shooting and killing unarmed men of color

  • La Luz

    The police commission is a dog and pony show that satisfies those not paying attention who think that there is oversight. But truth be told, they are a group of people who want the position for personal reasons and are puppets to the mayor and chief beck. Your kidding yourself if you think they are objective and fair. Watch a police commission meeting on their video archives one time. When someone who speaks to the commisson that they don’t want to be heard, they censor it. When Beck makes any move (promoting command staff) they tell him how great his choices were practically bowing in front of him as if he is all mighty. Soboroff the president blows off anything that goes against Beck and hides Beck’s egregious misconduct. How objective is that. If you go to the meeting it will satisfy your curiosity that, yes, they are as corrupt as what Jasmyne has been reporting. And, you will see how so few are paying attention and that explains why they do what they do. I cannot see any accountability or justification for their existence.

  • cutty sark

    Chief Beck’s hold off on allowing the L.A. County Coroner to release their post-mortem of Ezell Ford involves much greater issues than just the LAPD internal revue of the shooting.

    Beck would be filled with joy if the only problem in this case revolved around a determination of whether the shooting meets department policy and what discipline, if any, the LAPD management imposes upon its employee officers.

    Don’t be mislead by an absence of banter in the mainstream media – the forces at play behind the scenes are monumental, the potential repercussions are unprecedented.

    The headlines waiting to be written have a potential to etch the name Ezell Ford in Los Angeles history. Second or third to none other than Zoot Suit Riots, Watts Riots or Rodney King.

  • cutty sark

    LAPD Chief Beck will not be pulling his administrative hold on release of the coroner’s post-mortem of Ezell Ford just because Mayor Garcetti said “pretty please”.

    Beck wants to keep that report locked away for as long as possible, at least until the end of this decade.

    Anticipate Beck sitting on the report until he faces a judges order and a “contempt of court” ruling.

    That would entail a lot of negative publicity for the Chief. But its still less than the heat blowing through after the report drops to the public.

    don’t ask why the Chief would go the distance just to protect the officers involved in the Ford shooting.

    Beck is driven to prolong his own tenure as head of the LAPD and prevent his ultimate departure from leaving a stain so large as to engulf his entire reputation.

    Don’t be shocked, people.
    Charlie Beck might as well roll out the same way he rolled in.

    5 years and one week ago, Charlie Beck was sworn in as the successor to William Bratton.
    That gala ceremony took place only 8 hours after the solo motorcycle crash connected to the death of LAPD Officer Kenny Aragon in Atwater Village.

    Officer Aragon had been a veteran of Newton Division and the main architect of its Police Activities League program and successful PAL charity Golf Tournament.

    When Newton’s Bill Murphy was transferred to Northeast Station as its new captain, he came with a plan to build a PAL and a charitable fundraising machine like the one at Newton.

    When the time came to use the media to pin responsibility for the death of Officer Aragon, casting blame upon the deceased came equally easy whether Officer Aragon or Ezell Ford.

    As to the LAPD investigation over Officer Aragon’s whereabouts prior to his death – that report still isn’t finished either.

  • cutty sark

    The LAPD, whether under the management of Chief Charlie Beck or any previous Chief, are accustomed to playing with a different deck of cards than the one getting dealt from in this case.
    They know how to play with a good head start which allows them to control the flow of information. Thats how to win almost every hand and never lose their seat at the table.
    But thats not the position Chief Beck finds himself in regarding Ezell Ford.
    No it ain’t.
    Steve Lerman had his engine idling at Roscoe’s and his ear pinned to the scanner when Newton gang unit shots rang out a death knell on young Ezell.
    Lerman has the witness statements, the notarized videotaped affidavits.
    And he has got those witnesses on the program – locked down. The Mayor, the Chief, Bustamante, Paysinger, Soborrof – it doesn’t matter. They can put Santa Claus, Michael Jackson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Muhammad Ali on TV offering baskets of gift certificates to make their plea – for anyone and everyone to come down for an interview and tell what they did see.
    But those witnesses already gave their official statements.
    Lerman’s got them. And he is ready to share them. But the LAPD needs to show their hand first.
    Before Beck releases the autopsy, he wants to spy on what Lerman has in his case files. Dontcha think?

  • cutty sark

    Most people don’t like attorneys. You may not find Steve Lerman the kind of guy you want to chill with. He certainly is not the prettiest face to look at from afar or up close.

    But he is the right attorney at the right time with the correct strategy to advance the interests of Ezel Ford’s family and take this case further down the halls of justice and do more to open eyes, change perceptions and change the way things have been done at police H.Q. and the D.A.’s office since they opened for business.

    So if you are in favor of that, say a prayer for the man.

    Lerman’s name has been crossed off Chief Beck’s Xmas card list as well as the card lists of many others who work in the establishment and go along to get along with the way things have always been done.

    Lerman says what he needs to and thats all. Right now he doesn’t need to say anything. Ezell Ford’s family doesn’t need to say anything either. Ezell’s not coming back. Thats forever.

    They are waiting. Its Beck’s move. But its very risky for Beck to release his post-mortem before he knows what is in Lerman’s post-mortem.

    And you can bet that Lerman hired the most experienced and respected former big city coroner to perform the private post-mortem exam and report.

    If Beck goes first with releasing the County Coroner report the risk goes beyond the credibility of this specific case. There is concern at Police HQ’s and Sheriff HQ’s near and far. In most cases involving the death of an average person who lives within the boundaries of Newton Division, the County coroner conducts the only post-mortem exam and report. and that examiner is unlikely to to be called in for a detailed deposition.

    The L.A County coroner has fantastic and experienced examiners working there. But like in any organization, some are better than others.

    The private post-mortem was likely done by the best of the best and impeccably documented. 100% credibility.

    We don’t know which examiner performed the Ford exam at L.A County. They probably wanted the best on their team, but you know how staffing and scheduling issues can sometimes get in the way, right?

    Its possible they didn’t have anyone else available when needed and just went down the part-timer list until the 78 yr. old nigerian educated doctor answered the phone and rode a taxi over to the office in his pyjamas.

    If the post-mortems contain material differences
    and have to go under the microscope – who are they gonna believe?

  • cutty sark

    In order to rise up the ranks to get appointed as Chief of LAPD, an officer must possess leadership, intelligence, charm, guile ,patience, ambition and maybe even a measure of luck.

    Chief Beck has a big problem on his hands with the Ezell Ford shooting. The problem is their story of what happened. They don’t have one yet. Its still just fuzzy hanging participles and non-specifics.

    You know there is a problem when as part of the justification for the shooting we are told that Ezell Ford was “hiding his hands in front of himself.”

    The Chief says that the police are allowed to approach anyone on the street to ask questions – and that is true.

    How would you picture that?

    Do you picture the cops running up on you screaming and yelling out questions and accusations and advancing into your face?

    If you have never experienced that and were not anticipating that, how might you react?

    Even a person without any mental disability might freak out, panic, grab something and freeze-up in terror.

    If thats what happened, then the actions of the officers have contributed to his reaction. His reaction that forced them to shoot. That reaction was predictable.

    Without any probable cause for utilizing the super-aggressive questioning tactics, the officers bear some responsibility for causing the predictable reaction which caused the shooting which killed Ezell Ford.

    When all the facts come out, D.A. Lacey will sacrifice her credibility if she doesn’t bring criminal charges related to the death of Ezell Ford.

    When one or more officers face criminal charges related to the shooting death of Ezell Ford, their attorney will present a vigorous defense.

    What happens when the officer defendants claim that the aggressive tactics they used were part of their training and were approved and recommended for the situation?

    At that point, the LAPD has to call them liars or Chief Beck has to resign.

    Unless, of course, Chief Beck has already taken his retirement.

    Which is the most likely sequence of events.

    Beck is on his own schedule now. He will leave the fallout for his successor.

    Beck is not on garcetti’s schedule or soboroff’s schedule or anyone’s schedule but his own.

    He got the extra time he needed.

    You heard about the big fire in downtown L.A. last week next to the harbor Fwy?

    You know, the Palmer apartment complex under construction.

    The heat from the fire damaged a building across the street owned by the City of Los Angeles. 15 floors. Sprinklers soaked everything. including offices of L.A. Police Commission and L.A. P.D. Inspector General investigators. All investigations in progress delayed until further notice.

    Dam’n Charlie!
    Some guys get all the luck.

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