Ezell Ford Case: Calling For Criminal Charges

From Phil Shuman:

If you visit the scene of the Ezell Ford shooting at 65th and Broadway in South LA, almost a year later, a mural, candles, a teddy bear, a baseball cap, candles, they're all still there. Reminders. It took that long for the civilian Los Angeles Police Commission to find one of the two officers was ‘‘out of policy ‘' in the shooting last August of the 25-year-old man whose mother says was mentally ill.

That decision was a small bit of good news for his grieving mother, and many in the community, but there are others that don't believe that's enough. They want District Attorney Jackie Lacey to file a criminal case against the officer who was found ‘‘out of policy'' in addition to whatever administrative penalty LAPD Chief Charlie Beck decides on, if any. Earlier, Beck's departmental investigation concluded both officers were justified in shooting, a decision the Police Commission, his civilian bosses appointed by the Mayor, disagreed with.

I spoke with Reverend KW Tulluss, of the National Action Network, Al Sharpton's organization. He called on Lacey to act, saying ‘'We ‘re asking that the DA do the right thing. We saw on Friday, an officer charged in the death of Alicia Thompson and convicted. No one person is above the law ." That was for assault; this would be for shooting someone. Much different A prosecution like that hasn't happened in this county, for any law enforcement agency, since 2001. Beck, who was to hold his own news conference yesterday as is his custom after the Police Commission meeting but cancelled it abruptly, did issue a short video message only to his officer today saying in essence ‘'I support you." It was supposed to be internal, but once someone leaked it and it ended up on YouTube, the LAPD decided to give it out to the news media and by extension the public.

So what will D.A. Lacey do? She isn't saying, of course, simply issuing a statement from her office saying, in summary, ‘‘it's under review ‘'. Her people have to believe they can get a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt in order to file charges. History has shown here and elsewhere that no matter how upsetting a given incident might be, if police are in essence doing their job and claim they feared for their lives, it's very tough to get a conviction.