More on the LAPD Ezell Ford Shooting, DOJ to Review Police Tactics, LAUSD Welcomes Immigrant Kids…and MoreAugust 15th, 2014 by Taylor Walker
LAPD UNION MAKES STATEMENT ON FORD SHOOTING…AND QUESTIONS THAT NEED TO BE ANSWERED BY THE INVESTIGATION
On Monday, an LAPD officer shot Ezell Ford, an unarmed, young black man who was reportedly mentally disabled. According to LAPD officials, two officers stopped Ford, a struggle ensued, and Ford tackled one officer and tried to take his gun from its holster, at which point the officer shot Ford with his back-up weapon. The second officer also shot Ford. It is not yet clear how many bullets were fired.
Eyewitnesses are telling a conflicting story, one in which Ford was complying with officers.
Tyler Izen, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League urges us not to rush to a conclusion on the matter—that a thorough investigation will take time to determine whether the shooting was within policy. Here’s a clip:
“Increasingly, in the immediate aftermath of any police shooting, unvetted statements by persons claiming to be witnesses are given prominent play. While a factual investigation unfolds at a deliberate and slower pace, an inaccurate narrative can be created before the actual facts are determined. The Ezell Ford incident on August 11, 2014, in Newton Area is no exception, as we have read and viewed some inaccurate reports of what occurred.”
“It is critically important, both for the LAPD and the community to establish what actually happened. The LAPPL reminds everyone that it is necessary for a thorough and transparent investigation to take place so the final conclusion is trustworthy and can withstand critical scrutiny—and that will take time. This thorough and complete investigation is being conducted by Force Investigation Division. The Inspector General and the district attorney monitor the investigation and ensure that it is complete and unbiased. The preliminary facts, according to LAPD officials, are that two LAPD officers assigned to the Gang Enforcement Detail in Newton Area stopped Ezell Ford at about 8:10 p.m. as he walked on a sidewalk near 65th Street and Broadway in South Los Angeles. A violent struggle ensued, and Ford grabbed one of the officers and tried to remove the officer’s handgun from its holster, prompting a deadly use of force.”
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck is out of town, but KPCC’s Frank Stoltze spoke with LAPD Commander Andrew Smith and LAPD Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger about the Ford incident.
According to Smith, the struggle was chaotic and did end in Ford being shot while on the ground. Here’s a clip from Stoltze’s story:
The incident started when two officers with the Newton Division’s Gang Enforcement Detail confronted Ezell Ford during an “investigative stop” around 8:20 pm, according to Commander Andrew Smith. He did not know what precipitated the stop. Gang officers regularly approach people who they believe may be involved in gang activity.
“As the first officer gets close, the suspect spins around and grabbed the officer around the waist, threw him to the ground and was laying on top of the officer,” Smith said. “There was a struggle over the officer’s weapon and the officer on the ground withdrew his backup weapon and shot the suspect.” Many officers carry backup weapons in ankle holsters or tucked inside pants pockets.
The second officer also fired at Ford. Smith would not say how many bullets were fired or how many struck the suspect. Both officers are “veterans” with at least seven years at the department, he said.
LAPD Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger told KPCC that Ford “made suspicious movements, including attempting to conceal his hands.” Paysinger also said Ford “attempted to remove the officer’s handgun from its holster.” He added that “the suspect partially removed the gun from the officer’s holster, and it was indeed a struggle for their lives.”
Whether or not the shooting is determined to be within policy, it had a tragic outcome. Here are some of the questions that we’d like to see answered by the investigation:
Why was Ford stopped in the first place?
Are Ford’s fingerprints on the officer’s gun?
How many bullets were fired by the officers? Which shot proved fatal? After the first shot, were any following shots necessary, or were they products of an adrenalized action that could have been avoided?
AND WHILE WE’RE ON THE ISSUE OF QUESTIONABLE USE OF DEADLY FORCE ON MINORITIES AND THE MENTALLY ILL: JUSTICE DEPARTMENT LAUNCHING LARGE-SCALE REVIEW OF POLICE TACTICS
The Department of Justice is conducting an extensive review of police policies with regard to contact with the mentally ill, use of deadly force, and more, according to a federal law enforcement official. The review is expected to be completed early next year. The DOJ is also considering forming a national commission to oversee and direct police protocol and conduct.
USA Today’s Kevin Johnson has the story. Here’s a clip:
In addition to deadly force, the review is expected to examine law enforcement’s increasing encounters with the mentally ill, the application of emerging technologies such as body cameras, and police agencies’ expanding role in homeland security efforts since 9/11, said the official, who is not authorized to comment publicly and requested anonymity.
The review is slated to be completed early next year while authorities consider establishing a special law enforcement commission similar to a panel created by President Johnson to deal with problems then associated with rising crime.
Rather than violent crime, which has been in decline in much of the country, police are now grappling with persistent incidents involving use of force and their responses to an array of public safety issues, from drug overdoses to their dealings with the mentally ill and the emotionally disturbed.
The call for a broader federal policy review, while not directly tied to any specific incident, grew out of a meeting involving law enforcement advocacy groups and Justice officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder, the official said.
“Nobody has looked at the profession in any holistic way in more than 50 years,” the official said.
LAUSD TO WELCOME NEW IMMIGRANT STUDENTS “WITH OPEN ARMS”
All kids in the United States have a right to attend school regardless of their immigration status. In 2013, 13,000 kids entered the country without a parent or guardian. The number jumped to 25,000 this year, as kids are fleeing violence and poverty in their own countries.
LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy said that he is preparing for about 1,000 new immigrant children to enter the public school system this year, and told the LA Times, “We welcome the new youth with open arms in LAUSD.”
The LA Times’ Howard Blume has the story. Here’s how it opens:
At the low-slung bungalow west of downtown, a youngster screams from a vaccination and a nurse records the height and weight of an older boy. Academic counselors stand by, because it is here that many children who recently crossed the southern border enroll in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
As the line runs out the door of the cramped reception area, José Miguel waits his turn to sign up 17-year-old niece Elena, a native of Guatemala who crossed over from Mexico in March without her parents or a guardian.
Under federal law, these children are entitled to attend public school regardless of immigration status.
“I am planning for 1,000 this year, but I will know more when our doors open,” L.A. Unified Supt. John Deasy said just before the nation’s second-largest district started its school year on Tuesday.
Across the country over the next year, federal agencies expect to manage about 60,000 minors who entered or will arrive in the United States without an adult guardian. That figure compares with about 7,500 who came in annually before the numbers surged to 13,625 last year and about 25,000 in the current year.
“We welcome the new youth with open arms in LAUSD,” Deasy said last week in an interview with reporters and editors at The Times.
Many unaccompanied minors land in Southern California; here they can be cared for by relatives who are part of well-established expatriate communities from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras — the impoverished and sometimes violent countries from which most have journeyed.
José Miguel, a worker in the garment industry, needs assistance in part because his own education was limited. He speaks Spanish, but his first language is a Guatemalan dialect. Immigration authorities left him a stack of papers for his niece. He’s not sure what district staff need to see.
The center is outfitted to handle Spanish and Korean speakers, and brings in interpreters as needed.
L.A. Unified officials have warned schools to be prepared for students who may be afraid to enroll or who could experience separation anxiety and grief. Some have suffered trauma from witnessing violence. They may be undereducated or even illiterate.
Some of the girls might have been sexually abused; some are parents themselves. Diapers are among the supplies at the school enrollment, placement and assessment center, located in a fenced corner of Plasencia Elementary School.
BILL TO END RACIAL DISPARITY IN CRACK/POWDER COCAINE SENTENCING HEADS FOR GOVERNOR’S DESK
The California Assembly has passed a bill to equalize the punishment for possession (for sale) of powder and crack cocaine. Crack previously held a higher penalty of three to five years, while powder was punishable by two to four years.
SB 1010, authored by Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) has to go back to the Senate for a concurrence vote, after which it will land on the governor’s desk.
The Drug Policy Alliance has more on the bill’s progress. Here’s a clip:
“As Assemblymember Bradford said in presenting the bill today, the current disparities in our drug laws amount to institutional racism,” said Lynne Lyman of the Drug Policy Alliance. “The Fair Sentencing Act will take a brick out of the wall of the failed 1980’s drug war era laws that have devastated communities of color, especially Black and Latino men. The time has long come.”
Crack and powder cocaine are two forms of the same drug. Scientific reports, including a major study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, demonstrate that they have nearly identical effects on the human body. Crack cocaine is a product derived when cocaine powder is processed with an alkali, typically common baking soda. Gram for gram, there is less active drug in crack cocaine than in powder cocaine.
People of color account for over 98 percent of persons sent to California prisons for possession of crack cocaine for sale. From 2005 to 2010, Blacks accounted for 77.4 percent of state prison commitments for crack possession for sale, Latinos accounted for 18.1 percent. Whites accounted for less than 2 percent of all those sent to California prisons in that five year period. Blacks make up 6.6 percent of the population in California; Latinos 38.2 percent, and whites 39.4 percent.
“It’s time to end discriminatory sentencing for cocaine: whether possessed or sold as crack or as powder, it’s the same drug and violators should get the same treatment under the law,” said Senator Mitchell, chair of the Black Legislative Caucus. “Let’s stop demonizing drug-use when committed in communities of color while minimizing consequences for the white-collar version.”