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.