A man who was fatally shot by police officers in South Los Angeles ignored police instructions, grabbed an officer and tried to get ahold of the officer’s handgun during a struggle on the ground, the Los Angeles Police Department stated Wednesday.
The department’s account of the incident provided additional details of a shooting that prompted outraged responses from the family of Ezell Ford, who described the 25-year-old man lying down when he was shot Monday night.
Tritobia Ford told KTLA her son was complying with officers’ orders when he was shot; a cousin said he had been shot in the back.
Initially, police offered few details Monday and Tuesday, saying that an officer-involved shooting left a man dead following a struggle with patrol officers that came after an “investigative stop” on 65th Street near Broadway in the Florence neighborhood.
But a news release sent out Wednesday afternoon provided new details that conflicted with the family’s account of the shooting. The man killed in the shooting was not identified in the LAPD release; his family has provided his name to KTLA.
Ford’s mother Tritobia Ford on Wednesday said the family was seeking “justice, justice for Ezell.”
The LAPD release stressed that the new account was preliminary and based on an ongoing investigation.
Two patrol officers with the LAPD’s Newton Division gang detail got out of their car and tried to talk to the man on 65th Street just after 8 p.m. Monday, LAPD stated.
The man looked in the direction of the officers but kept walking and “made suspicious movements, including attempting to conceal his hands,” the release stated.
When the officers got closer tried to stop him, the man turned and grabbed one of the officers, police said.
During the ensuing struggle, they fell to the ground and “the individual attempted to remove the officer’s handgun from its holster,” the release stated.
That’s when the officer’s partner fired his handgun, while the officer on the ground fired his backup weapon, police said.
The man was handcuffed and an ambulance was called. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
In an interview with KTLA Wednesday evening, Acting LAPD Chief Earl Paysinger called the struggle a “violent altercation.”
LAPD’s Force Investigation Division detectives were working on the case.
Paysinger said it was important the department be transparent in the investigation.
“The LAPD views any loss of human live as a great tragedy,” Paysinger said in the news release. “The LAPD investigates, reviews, and adjudicates all officer-involved shootings as thoroughly and transparently as possible and with the independent review and oversight of the Los Angeles Police Commission, its Office of Inspector General, and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.”
The two officers involved in the shooting were placed on paid leave, Paysinger said. They were taking the death hard, he said.
One officer had scrapes and lacerations from the struggle, the acting chief said.
Paysinger asked that any witnesses come forward and call the Force Investigation Division at 213-486-5230, or the Office of the Inspector General at 213-482-6833.