LAPD Chief Beck faces tough backlash over shooting of Ezell Ford

Wednesday, August 20, 2014
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Residents and activists angry over the fatal shooting of Ezell Ford gave LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck an earful Tuesday.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck showed up at a community forum Tuesday night asking for more witnesses to come forward following the fatal shooting of Ezell Ford.

South Los Angeles residents gave Beck an earful at the meeting held at Paradise Baptist Church. The meeting was a chance for the community to vent its frustrations with the department and to ask questions about the deadly officer-involved shooting.

Ford was fatally shot by two gang officers on Aug. 11 as he walked home along the 200 block of West 65th Street. Police accounts said Ford was shot after he tried to grab an officer's gun during a struggle.

Beck says why Ford was stopped and why officers failed to use a Taser are under investigation. Family members say Ford was mentally challenged and harmless.

The names of the officers will be released once the LAPD feels their safety is not at risk. Police say releasing the autopsy results before all witnesses have come forward could influence their statements. They don't want potential witnesses to have read or heard about details such as the number and location of bullet wounds, police Cmdr. Andrew Smith said.

"That hold will be released when we are confident that we have obtained the statements of witnesses," Beck said.

The Office of the Inspector General and the District Attorney's Office are investigating the use of deadly force, but one lawyer in the audience says they work too closely with the LAPD to have an unbiased investigation.

"You have to have an independent outside body, and until you have that, there will be total cover-ups forever," lawyer Art Goldberg said.

Police promise a quick and transparent investigation with the final report available online. But many residents feel the way some officers in South L.A. conduct themselves will likely lead to more officer-involved shootings in the future.

"The way I go about the streets is when you fight somebody for so long, you become just like them, so what I'm asking is, what do you do about your little homies, Chief Beck, the gangbangers that's in your force?," an unidentified man, who attended the meeting, asked Beck.

"It is very important for new police officers to learn from the experience of those who have gone before them," Beck responded.

Community members who attended the meeting say they want the LAPD to find the funding to outfit every single police officer with a lapel camera to document what happens in the field.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.