The Los Angeles police chief and his department’s independent watchdog have reportedly found that a deadly close-range shooting of a 25-year-old black man by police officers last year was justified.
A department source told The Associated Press Friday the chief and the inspector general both found that evidence support the officers’ contention that they shot Ezell Ford because he was trying to grab an officer’s weapon.
However, the findings by Chief Charlie Beck and the inspector general are only recommendations to the Police Commission, which will determine after a hearing next week whether the shooting of Ford was within the department’s policy.
The evidence included Ford’s DNA on the gun, which a previously released autopsy report in the case also supported the officers’ account.
However, the inspector general found that the officers’ tactics were problematic in the way they approached Ford. The watchdog said the officers should have kept their distance, pulled their weapons and given him instructions instead of engaging him directly.
The findings, which were first reported by the Los Angeles Times, are expected to be delivered in reports to the Police Commission for a closed-door session hearing Tuesday.
Commission President Steve Soboroff acknowledged that he had received the recommendations along with depositions and other evidence, but said he could not legally reveal what they said.
He emphasized that it's the commission's decision in the end whether the shooting was within policy.
"The jury hasn't decided," he said. "The adjudication has not happened."
According to the LAPD, Ford was acting suspiciously when he caught officers' attention in August. He allegedly knocked one officer to the ground and was grappling for the officer's holstered weapon when his partner fired two shots. The fallen officer pulled out a backup gun and shot Ford in the back, Beck said last year.
The killing inspired several peaceful protests and marches through Los Angeles, where demonstrators connected the death with that of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, just days earlier.
Ford's parents believe the shooting was unjustified. They have filed a federal civil lawsuit and $75 million claim against the city alleging the two gang officers knew Ford from the neighborhood and were aware he had mental problems.
The Associated Press contributed to this report