An unarmed black man killed in August by Los Angeles police died of gunshot wounds to his back and side, according to an autopsy report released Monday.
Ezell Ford, 25, was killed after being confronted by police officers here, just two days after Michael Brown was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo. While protests of Mr. Brown’s death raged for weeks in Missouri, the police here ordered Mr. Ford’s autopsy report withheld, citing fears that it could contaminate potential witness accounts during their investigation of the shooting.
Mr. Ford was approached on the night of Aug. 11 by two police officers who “observed him make movements that they regarded as suspicious,” Charlie Beck, the Los Angeles police chief, said Monday. According to the police account of the episode, as the officers stepped toward him, he spun around, tackling one of the officers to the ground and lunging for his handgun.
At that point, the other officer shot twice, while the officer on the ground also fired his backup weapon, the police said.
The autopsy report showed that Mr. Ford had been shot three times: once in the side, once in the arm and once in the back. The wound on his back left a muzzle imprint on his skin.
Chief Beck said that the investigation was continuing, and that he was not yet prepared to comment on whether the officers had been justified in shooting.
“There is nothing in the coroner’s report that is inconsistent with the statements given to us by the officers,” he said. “We are still looking for other versions of events.”
Mr. Ford’s family has filed a civil rights lawsuit and a $75 million claim against the city, which said that Mr. Ford had a mental illness and was known to police officers in the area. The suit also accused the police of using excessive force and racial profiling against black residents.
The family’s lawyer did not respond to requests for comment Monday.
SOURCE: IAN LOVETT
The New York Times