The Los Angeles City Council voted 10-2 in favor of paying a $1.5 million settlement to the family of Ezell Ford, a 25-year-old black man with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder who was fatally shot by two Los Angeles police officers in August 2014. Ford allegedly grabbed for one of the officers’ guns during an “investigative stop” in South LA, and was shot three times by officers Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas.
Councilmembers Mitchell Englander and Joe Buscaino were the two councilmembers who voted against the settlement. Englander and Buscaino, who are both LAPD reserve officers, said they believed the actions of Wampler and Villegas to be justified, and did not believe the city should pay.
Last month, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced that the DA’s Office would not bring charges against Wampler and Villegas in the fatal shooting.
“My goal was, should I charge Wampler and Villegas with committing an unlawful homicide? Did they break the law in what they did? And, could I prove [beyond a reasonable doubt] they were guilty of murder, essentially,” Lacey explained in an interview with A Martinez of KPCC’s Take Two.
Although the LA Police Commission faulted the officers’ tactics, Lacey pointed to a legal precedent (Graham v Connor) that allows officers to defend themselves in dangerous situations—even if improper tactics by the officers helped make the interaction perilous.
The LA Times’ Kate Mather and David Zahniser have more on the story.