Autopsy: Black Man Shot in Back by LAPD

Family suing over Ezell Ford death
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 30, 2014 12:58 AM CST
Autopsy: Black Man Shot in Back by LAPD
Lavell Ford lights a candle as he gazes down at the area where his brother Ezell Ford was killed.   (AP Photo/The Orange County Register, Ed Crisostomo)

Demonstrators took to the streets of Los Angeles last night after autopsy results revealed that a 25-year-old black man killed by police in August had been shot in the back at close range. Ezell Ford was shot three times, according to the autopsy—in his right side, right arm, and back, where there was a muzzle imprint with the wound, the BBC reports. Police say Ford was stopped after "acting suspiciously" on a south LA street and was shot after a struggle in which he tried to grab an officer's gun. The autopsy ruled the death a homicide, which is routine for fatal police shootings, and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck says the findings back up the police account of events, CBS reports. The chief stresses that the investigation is ongoing and says the autopsy results were not released until now because police were searching for civilian witnesses.

Ford, who was unarmed, forced an officer to the ground and tried to remove his gun from his holster; the officer "yelled to his partner that Mr. Ford had his gun," Beck told reporters. "The officer's partner then fired two rounds, striking Mr. Ford," Beck said. "At about the same time, the officer on the ground, while on his back, grabbed his backup weapon, reached around Mr. Ford and fired one shot at close range, striking Mr. Ford in the back." A friend of the family, however, says she saw part of the incident and didn't witness a struggle. Ford's parents, who say their son was mentally ill, have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the LAPD, accusing them of using excessive force, the Los Angeles Times reports. The two officers involved have been on administrative duties since the Aug. 11 shooting. (More LAPD stories.)

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