Ezell Ford: How L.A.’s Top Cop and D.A. Have Everybody Fooled

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).

 

Flanked by members of the Nation of Islam, Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, last Friday rappers Snoop “Cause it’s 187 on an Undercover Cop” Dogg and Game decided to become public servants and urge Angelenos to have a dialogue—a relationship of sorts– with the Los Angeles Police Department in the aftermath of the officer-involved-shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castille and the murders of five Dallas law enforcement officers during a protest.

But like with any relationship, I need more—a lot more. I need more than a Kumbaya moment before the media urging me to have a one-sided love affair with a man who struggles with honesty and being able to communicate.

Perhaps when Snoop and Game stepped forward to ask us to have a dialogue with Chief Beck they were unaware that one of the main issues the community wants to discuss with him is one that he is trying to avoid at all costs.

In one month exactly it will be two years since the South Los Angeles officer-involved-shooting that took the life of 25-year-old Ezell Ford and still nothing from Chief Beck on whether or not there will be any discipline for the two officers involved.

Ford was killed after a questionable stop by two Los Angeles police officers on 65th and Broadway. Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas, gang enforcement officers in the LAPD’s Newton Division, said they believed Ford was trying to dispose of drugs that were in his possession, which Wampler felt was sufficient evidence to arrest him. No drugs were ever found in the vicinity.

They also said that Ford tried to remove the Wampler’s handgun from its holster and that Villegas said he feared for his life and that of his partner and shot Ford in the arm, then at Wampler’s urging fired a second round into Ford’s side. Wampler said Ford continued to resist, causing him to retrieve his backup gun and used it to reach around Ford and shoot him in the back.

Villegas said he believed Ford may have been armed because he was in “a gang area.” Ford was unarmed.

To date, Chief Beck has yet to announce any decision of discipline for the two officers involved. The Police Commission has long since issued its non-binding-Chief Beck-can-take-it-or-leave-it-opinion that that one officer was justified in the shooting while the other violated Ford’s civil rights by detaining him in the first place.

There have been countless protests in the name of Ezell Ford calling on the Department for answers.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League embarked on a character assassination after the fact public relations tour immediately after the shooting claiming that Ezell Ford was a gang member—which his family vehemently denies.

The calls for the autopsy report got so loud in November of 2014 that Mayor Eric Garcetti was forced to step in and give Chief Beck a deadline on when the autopsy results would be released by publicly announcing that the results would be released before year’s end. And I’ll be damned if Beck didn’t ride it out until the last possible minute to release that little bit of information.

The autopsy was released on December 29. It showed Ford was shot three times, in the back, side and right arm. The gunshot wound in his back bore a “muzzle imprint” suggesting the shot was fired at very close range. It also noted multiple abrasions to Ford’s hand and arm.

That news didn’t go over too well and the protests continued.

Meanwhile Ezell Ford’s family filed a $75 million wrongful death lawsuit against the LAPD in federal court.

And then it happened.

The day after the Police Commission gave its opinion on the Ford shooting—and I say opinion because that’s really all it is when you strip everything away. Chief Beck is under no obligation to take the Commission’s opinion into consideration when deciding on whether or not to take disciplinary action against officers and in this case he had already made it clear that he thought the shooting was within LAPD policy.

But back to the Commission’s opinion. The day after the Commission’s opinion was announced Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced that the case was under review for possible criminal charges against the officers by her office.

That was June 10, 2015. Today is July 11, 2016 and still nothing.

Slowly but surely what I believe both Lacey, who is running unopposed for re-election, and Chief Beck wanted to happen, happened.

First the cameras left and news reporters stopped asking questions. Then the protests became fewer and far between. For a time, there was hardly any mention of Ezell Ford at all.

The usual one year internal Department deadline for discipline for Wampler and Villegas came and went.

Why? Because as long as D.A. Lacey sticks to her story of investigating the evidence on the Ford shooting, the clock is stopped and Beck doesn’t have to do a damn thing. It’s called tolling.

Tolling allows for the pausing or delaying of the running of the period of time set forth by a statute of limitations.

Neither Lacey nor Beck want to be bothered with the Ezell Ford case. Lacey is doing Beck a solid by sticking to her story because as long as she does, he’s covered. As for her, she’s just trying to make it through Election Day with as little drama as possible.

Mayor Garcetti, while he had much to say about the autopsy report, has had nothing to say about a deadline for the Beck to announce whether or not the officers would be disciplined. These days I’m sure he’s just trying to coast under the radar and not wake up to a bunch of angry Blacks camped out in front of his house.

When you think about it, it’s actually quite brilliant because the average person doesn’t know how the game works.

And while Black Lives Matter Los Angeles continues to call for Beck to be fired, they haven’t seemed to grasp the concept of the game that’s being played on them, the Ford family and everyone else concerned about Ford shooting.

If BLMLA knew better they’d be all over Jackie Lacey regarding Ezell Ford and they’d be telling Beck, the jig is up. We want you fired still but the jig is up.

The same goes for the news media.

Lacey is the one holding everything up and if you ask me it’s completely political and super strategic.

So until Chief Beck is willing to address the Ezell Ford shooting with the community, there isn’t much to talk about with the community in my opinion.

The elements of any good relationship include transparency, communication, putting things on the table and respect.

Los Angeles Police Chief Beck comes up short in each and every one of those areas where the community is concerned. If he wants that to change he can man up and stop hiding behind Jackie Lacey and just announce his decision on the two officers involved in killing Ford. He already knows what he is going to do. Believe me, it won’t come as a total surprise if there’s no discipline at all given Beck’s track record with handing out punishment coupled with his belief that the shooting was within in policy. Let’s just be done with it. Two years is long enough.

Oh and by the way, Beck and Lacey–game recognize game.

The Court of Public Opinion

  • That was June 10, 2015. Today is July 11, 2016 and still nothing.
    This is the standard method of operation-MO, it has been going on for years….don’t rush to judgment, wait until the investigation is over..blah blah blah. The Fullerton PD did the same with the Kelly Thomas killing and it is repeated on a weekly basis all over this state. Nothing will happen. It does NOT take a year for the DA to do an investigation and file charges if warranted. When was the last time a NON COP murder suspect was on ice for more than a year to determine if charges should be filed? NEVER, that’s when….

  • cliff smith

    “If BLMLA knew better?” We have been telling them this since they got back from Ferguson in August, 2014 when we and Ezell’s family were in front of Lacey’s office. BLMLA held a closed door meeting with Lacey and Dr. Abdullah participated in an award ceremony to honor her with the “Women in Action” award which we were thrown out of for disrupting.

  • Metro dawg

    becks is a useless dumbass. he needs to be fired. end of story..

  • Ammon Ammon

    I can’t trust anyone who tries that hard to look like Magnum P.I.

  • bluethru1994

    First Ezell Ford was not mental. Got that straight from his relatives. Next he attacked an officer and tried to take his gun away. He was a gang member. His whole family are gang members. I encourage the Black Lives Matter people to continue their hate filled speech. This is really turning the good citizens of South LA off. Cant tell you how many times this last week that citizens have come up to me and apologized for the hate speech and racist actions of the Black Lives Matter group. So I encourage negative talk about the police because this is doing nothing but bringing more and more citizens on the side of the police. Continue to support the gang members who continue to keep killing and shooting each other up. Those who support the Black Lives Matter hate speech knows better. They just don’t have anything better to do. The Long Beach State professor, whats her name, should be fired for her racist and hateful speech.

    Oh by the way. LAPD is dragging it along hoping that everyone will forget.

    Jasmyne, while we may not agree on everything, what you do is appreciated.

    Just one man’s opinion.

  • Tritobia Ford

    I don’t know who you are or what family member you talked to bluethru1994, but I am Ezell’s mother and he was definately diagnosed by several doctors as having a medical mental condition. Secondly you do not know his whole family to say we are all gangmembers. Lastly were you there the night of the shooting? There are witnesses that have given depositions. Who are you? Opinions are just like but wholes, everybody has one!

  • Tritobia Ford

    Why don’t you use your real name? Obviously whoever you talked to was no relative of ours. Ezell was diagnosed as having a mental condition, not by me, his mother but by qualified health professionals. What do people like yourself get out of disrespecting the dead and a grieving family? Okay stating the obvious, yeah they are dragging it out, so what, I guarantee I will never forget this pain and the lost of my son. I have tried to be as respectful and dignified as I can be and wait the process out, but damn don’t know how much more I can take!

  • bluethru1994

    I was there the night of the unfortunate shooting of Ezell and I saw the officers as they were battered and beat up. I was also there when the Ford family fired shots at the police at 64th St and Broadway and the undercover officers were lucky to escape with their lives. I will not comment any further on this subject.

  • cutty sark

    Ezell Ford’s behavior patterns, as described, qualify for diagnosis as related to a mental disability. The cause of the disability may have been an organic genetic predisposition. Its also quite possible there was a secondary, or even primary, environmental or experiential reactive component. A more reliable and conclusive determination would require additional professional observation and testing which is no longer feasible – due to the fact that Ezell Ford is dead.
    However, Ford’s behavior is often characteristic of the psychological stress related to severe and sustained emotional and physical abuse.
    Previous news reports have sought to collect and provide personal background information about Ezell Ford. At least one of those reports has placed the apparent onset of the behaviors indicating mental disability as coincident to Ezell Ford’s return home after approximately 3 months held in custody at L.A. County Jail related to charges of felony marijuana possession.
    It is notable that Ford’s term in custody on pending charges is chronologically concurrent with the period now considered as the apex of the abuses associated with rogue deputy cliques working the jail custody assignment.
    There is no allegation that Ezell Ford was ever directly subjected to abuse by jail custody deputies. If he was, Ezell would have related that information to his family. Unfortunately, what Ezell may have experienced while in custody was not only severely traumatic, but also never revealed to any friend, family member or doctor.
    Ezell Ford’s behavior patterns following his custody in County Jail at age 18 up until his death are indicative of a person who was a victim of rape and who was subjected to a sustained period under constant threat of assault and rape. This is entirely possible and would have been more likely to occur during the period in question.
    The co-agent of brutality is indifference.
    Had Ezell Ford been victimized and sought to notify custody deputies, those pleas may have gone ignored. Had fellow inmates sought to notify custody deputies about a situation where a young man was being victimized, the response could have been total inaction or it could have been a threat of punishment to the complaining inmates to discourage them from any further reporting of the situation.
    Its even possible that custody deputies could have allowed Ezell Ford to be moved to a housing assignment which they knew would carry a heightened risk of victimization.
    There is scant chance we will ever be able to confirm or to rule out whether this description fits Ezell Ford’s actual experience in County Jail.
    But I’m sure that anyone can understand that if it is an accurate description, how social customs and family customs would have prevented Ezell from ever gaining the trust he needed to reveal the details to anyone. And how those attitudes and customs would have forced Ezell to internalize 100% of the trauma he sustained.
    As a taxpaying resident of L.A. County, and as a resident of the City of L.A. who has had numerous occassions over the decades to visit the neighborhood on Broadway that is less than 20 blocks north of 66th Street, and as caucasian man who has served a term of custody in Los Angeles County MCJ on almost identical charges as Ezell Ford but was there only a fraction of the amount of time as Ezell, and as a jail inmate under the system who very quickly was allowed to return to the comforts of my own home for the bulk of my sentence because I had access to resources which Ezell Ford did not have, and therefore, under that same system, kept Ezell away from home for the entire term,
    that
    I am truly sorry
    for all the pain, suffering, brutality, indifference and abuse that was unwarranted, undeserved, unfair and uncalled for that your son was forced to suffer, to bear, and to carry upon himself.
    And I’m truly sorry
    for the frustration, grief and sorrow which has been thrust upon you by a system that sought to denigrate, dehumanize and so harshly punish your son for something called marijuana that is supposed to be legal under the State of California.
    I am truly sorry
    for the system that seeks to protect and perpetuate itself more than it truly seeks to protect the individual officers
    because it has long ago locked them in to the system and locked them out of any opportunity for reconciliation they may seek,understanding they may offer, grieving they may need and healing they may desire.
    That system prevents them from talking to us.
    It stands ready to strip them of almost everything they have and to crush them without mercy should they even consider to reach out to you, sit down with you and try to listen to each other.
    That system will provide them with job security, but it will leave them trapped if they burnout before its time to retire. It will leave them at risk for soul insecurity – domestic abuse, divorce, depression, substance abuse and suicide rates much higher than average.
    I am truly sorry
    for the system which has rigidified and conformed its response to Ezell Ford’s mother. The system which only knows how to ignore her genuine yearnings, how to reject her vision and her truth, how to deny her difficult and bold journey to go forward and carry on.
    I am truly sorry for the system which erects a barricade between Ezell Ford’s mother and her son whose life is rapidly slipping way. A system which rushes her son away to an ER operating room and takes no care or effort to also see that she gets to the hospital waiting room.
    A system which has left her son unarmed, restrained and incapacitated with one arm shattered and 2 bullet holes blown through him splayed out on the sidewalk and that system cannot see any reason why it needs to find some way to allow his mother through the line just to hold his hand or his head as the lifeblood is pouring out of him into the night.
    I have not yet found any way to understand that.

  • cutty sark

    You claim that Ezell Ford was a gang member.
    That alone doesn’t really tell us much, if anything at all, about the person.
    It doesn’t tell us anything about what he’s done – good or bad. It doesn’t tell us whether to love him or hate him, whether we should respect him or disdain him.
    A gang member can have a stellar record of accomplishments.
    He can wear the badge and dark blues and get invited to Wahington D.C. by the President as an example to admire – just like Captain T.
    His membership isn’t put in the spotlight, but it comes up on occasion – for example, during the Chris Dorner incident.
    That’s when Captain T was on the Dorner hit list.
    Some of the homies were itching to post guard over his crib.
    But apparently T wasn’t comfortable letting his Bounty Hunter Blood set represent in Irvine.

  • cutty sark

    You said you’ve made your final comment on this topic. You should seriously reconsider. The LAPD narrative of events always appeared highly implausible – now someone who was actually there has new information which was completely left out of official reports.
    Who are the officers you saw beaten and battered? The offficial report lists only one officer as having any significant physical contact with Ezell Ford and I don’t recall that he was beaten or injured.
    What really happened? Did the two officers who shot Ezell end up in a scuffle with arriving back-up units? That’s wild!

  • Pingback: Mother of Ezell Ford Threatens to Chain Herself to D.A.’s Office | | Jasmyne Cannick()

  • cutty sark

    Mad As Heck and Making It To 60 –
    some personal thoughts for Tritobia Ford.

    Any normal person should be able to understand where you are coming from as the mother of Ezell Ford.
    You want to protect your son, defend your son, help your son.
    You are ready to fight for your son.
    Now that his life has been taken, your anger is going to be intense and prolonged. Your frustration is growing and becomes almost unbearable as you seek acknowledgement of what was done to him.
    But you cant let it bring you down, because you have your own life and you have your other kids and grandkids that will also need you to be there for them.
    And eventually, you and your family will receive a settlement from the City of Los Angeles.
    Its going to be a substantial sum of money, but its also going to be a long time coming.
    The City Attorney will continue opposing any settlement probably right up until every last delaying manuever is used and the case gets set for jury trial.
    The City Attorney is not doing this to you personally.
    Its simply what they usually do in cases similiar to yours.
    There is also a political factor here.
    Ezell Ford has become a high profile case for Mayor Garcetti; therefore, a settlement becomes an acknowledgement that the City was wrong and Garcetti was wrong.
    A settlement will reflect negatively on Garcetti.
    The political establishment works to protect Garcetti’s image and reputation – which means there will probably not be any talk of settlement until after Garcetti is gone.
    That’s most likely at least another 5 or 6 years.
    But that money won’t do you any good if you have a stroke or a heart attack from stress prior to final settlement.
    Assume a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 15 years until the City finally pays up.
    You can keep fighting for your son’s reputation and working to hold people accountable for their actions, but you also need to take care of yourself.
    You need to make it to 60.
    And you need to get there stronger and wiser so that you are ready for the challenge and responsibility of honoring your son Ezell with how you handle that money.
    And I guarantee you right now, there is no doubt the City is going to have to settle this case for a lot.
    Because if it goes to jury trial and verdict, the City will lose and have to pay even more.

  • cutty sark

    Reality and the Hard Road Ahead

    First off, you need to know that these officers are not going to be charged.
    But you also need to understand that they will also suffer greatly under this system which operates to insulate them from criminal liability – they will travel silently over their own hard road ahead
    As part of their employment contract with LAPD, they are required to answer questions about what they saw, heard, thought and did in this incident.
    Those questions are asked by LAPD investigators as part of their internal investigation of the shooting.
    The officer’s reply to all of the questions are called “compelled statements”.
    As a basic rule, these compelled statements can’t be used to prosecute them for the shooting.
    However, the officer’s statements in this case appear to come from a scripted cover story that was concocted and forced upon them from very early on.
    Now they are locked into that story.
    If either of them was to admit what really happened, then their career, reputation, friendships, social standing would be stripped away in a very harsh and unforgiving manner.
    It’s extremely risky for them to talk about the truth with anyone – not even a best friend or spouse.
    Although the officers will not face criminal prosecution, there is significant probability that in the long run – this shooting will end up destroying them from the inside out.
    These officers can not approach you person to person and speak the truth to you, even if that is what their concsience calls upon them to do and what their soul yearns to do.
    If they tried to do that, the system which is protecting them without their having requested it, will turn on them as wolves turn on cornered prey.
    There is enough tragedy in this case to go all the way around and back. The officers are on that loop.

  • cutty sark

    If You Are Mad As Heck, Then You Can Fight Like Heck. But You Have To Fight Smart Or You Will Gain Nothing From Your Efforts – some personal thoughts for Tritobia Ford.

    So you are mad as heck and ready to make a demonstration at D.A. Lacey’s office.
    That will let people know that you are angry and frustrated, but it won’t educate them about the case and it will have no impact on their pre-existing perspective of the shooting of Ezell Ford.
    The D.A. is the expert in all of the intricacies of the rules and regulations of the criminal code and procedures.
    You and I would look pitiful and ridiculous attempting to challenge Lacey on the level of her command of the code.
    The fact is, she isn’t required to communicate with you at all and she doen’t have to respond to media requests about the investigation.
    The D.A. can even place a hold on public release of the completed Force Investigation report.
    If she does, then the only way to see the report is by making a Public Records Act request.
    The D.A. Office will likely vigorously oppose the request and force you to seek remedy through the courts.
    At the end of the day, any copy of the completed report which you receive is going to be heavily redacted – all the important items blacked out.
    But don’t give up yet.
    Go ahead and call out the District Attorney.
    But don’t ask her when or if she will charge the officers.
    Instead, keep the questions simple and basic and genuine.
    A basic question requires a basic answer.
    A simple question doesn’t require a panel to hold a conference and it doesn’t require researchers to spend a week in the archives.
    A basic question which remains ignored by the District Attorney can stimulate the public to wonder –
    “The D.A. must know the answer to that, but does she? And why doesn’t she have the courtesy to provide the answer to the mother of this man who was shot and killed? Are they trying to hide something?”
    Once people start asking those questions, their pre-existing perspective on this case will loosen and open up to the possibility of revision.