Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck and the Police Department's independent watchdog have determined that two officers were justified in fatally shooting Ezell Ford, a mentally ill black man whose killing last year sparked protests and debate over the use of deadly force by police, according to sources with knowledge of the investigation.
Department investigators found evidence indicating that Ford had fought for control of one officer's gun, bolstering claims the officers made after the shooting, said two sources who spoke on the condition that they not be identified because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the case.
Ford and one of the officers, Sharlton Wampler, had scratches on their hands, and the holster for Wampler's gun was scratched as well, the sources said. Tests found Ford's DNA on the weapon, according to the sources.
The shooting occurred Aug. 11, after Wampler and his partner, Antonio Villegas, members of an anti-gang unit in the department's Newton Division, saw Ford walking down a street near his South L.A. home.
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