The results of an autopsy of an unarmed, mentally ill African American man killed by Los Angeles police officers on Aug. 11 have been released showing that Ezell Ford was shot in his right side, right arm and his back, with a muzzle imprint found around the wound in the back. The wound in the back was fatal, the report said.
While the autopsy itself is only a piece of a more complicated puzzle and draws no conclusions, LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck said at a news conference that he saw nothing in it “that is inconsistent” with the version of events provided by the officers involved in it, according to the Los Angeles Times.
According to that account, which was repeated by Beck Monday, the officers got out of their car to speak with Ford–for unspecified reasons–but he walked away. When they followed him to a nearby driveway, Beck said, Ford grabbed one of the officers, pinned him to the ground and tried to get his gun from his holster.
The officer on the ground yelled for help from his partner, who fired two rounds at Ford. The officer on the ground then grabbed what Beck described as a backup weapon, reached around Ford and fired at close range into his back.
“I don’t see anything that says, ‘Wait a minute, this just doesn’t sound right,’” Ed Obayashi, an Inyo County sheriff’s deputy told the Times. “There’s nothing based on what I’ve read that shows this is a bad shoot.”
Geoffrey Alpert, a professor of criminology at the University of South Carolina, told the Times it was too soon to draw conclusions. “It’s irresponsible if you don’t have all the evidence,” he told the Times.
Police had delayed release of the autopsy in an effort, they said, to avoid prejudicing any witnesses who might turn up. After bitter complaints about a lack of transparency, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti ordered the report released before the end of the year.
Ford, 25, was killed just days after Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Mo. setting off a wave of protests across the nation.
After Ford was killed, his family accused the LAPD of murder. While police said the autopsy was consistent with their account of what happened, the family claimed just the opposite. After Beck’s news conference, a lawyer for Ford’s family, which has filed a $75 million claim against Los Angeles, called the autopsy “horrifying” and said Ford’s family had “gone into seclusion.”
“They’re distraught, they’re hysterical with grief and anger,” Steve Lerman, the family’s attorney, said. “It essentially filled in their worst nightmare that this happened like this, more like an execution than a confrontation.”
Police have not identified any witnesses to the shooting. Lerman said he had interviewed some, but did not name them.