In another police shooting of an allegedly unarmed black man, the second to occur in three days, 25-year-old Ezell Ford, whose family described him as “mentally challenged,” was shot to death by Los Angeles, California, police Monday night.
In the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, unarmed teen Michael Brown was shot dead by a police officer on Saturday.
According to witnesses and his family, Ford was unarmed and lying on the ground when police shot him.
“As he was walking down the street, the police approached him, whatever was said I couldn’t hear it, but the cops jumped out of the car and rushed him over here into this corner,” said witness Leroy Hill, in an interview with The Huffington Post. “They had him in the corner and were beating him, busted him up, for what reason I don’t know he didn’t do nothing. The next thing I know I hear a ‘pow!’ while he’s on the ground. They got the knee on him. And then I hear another ‘pow!’ No hesitation. And then I hear another ‘pow!’ Three times.”
Hill said the he heard a Los Angeles Police officer yell “shoot him!” while Ford was on the ground, but before the police opened fire.
Police said that their confrontation with Ford came during an “investigative stop.”
A man who said he was Ford’s cousin told KTLA TV that the officers were aware of Ford’s mental issues, but they accosted him and ultimately shot him anyway.
“Every officer in this area, from the Newton Division, knows that — that this child has mental problems,” the man told the TV station. “The excessive force, there was no purpose for it. The multiple shootings in the back while he’s laying down? No.”
The Ford family says it now plans to file a civil rights lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles. The family’s lawyer, Steven Lerman, reiterated that Ford was not armed and was not affiliated with any gangs.
“No, no, no, no. He was not armed,” Lerman told MSNBC interviewer Chris Hayes. “He was mentally challenged. This is not the person that’s lurking behind a corner with a gun. He’s not a gangbanger. Walking down a city street, a citizen of Los Angeles, walking down a city street unarmed at 8:00 on a Monday night. I can’t think of more innocent circumstances.”
The altercation between Ford and police happened at about 8:20 pm on the 200 block of 65th Street in Los Angeles. Ezell Ford was taken to a hospital after the shooting, where he died. The officers involved sustained minor scrapes, police said.