Officers ID’d in Fatal Shooting of Mentally Ill Man

Ezell Ford was shot and killed by police during a confrontation in South Los Angeles

The officers involved in the fatal shooting of a mentally ill man have been identified, Los Angeles police said Thursday.

The officers involved in the shooting of Ezell Ford in South LA on Aug. 11 were Officers Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas, both assigned to the Newton Area Gang Enforcement Detail, police said in a statement.

The officers shot him after they said he ignored their instructions and went for one of their guns during a struggle.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson, the president of the Los Angeles Urban Roundtable, said conflicting accounts of the shooting have emerged.

Witnesses said that Ford was not resisting, that he had mental challenges, and that police officers in the area aware of him and his condition, Hutchinson said. A family member has said that Ford had schizophrenia and other disorders.

Hutchinson called the release of the names a "first step in insuring an transparent and impartial investigation."

Hutchinson said he had made the call for officer identification in two meetings with Assistant LAPD Chief Earl Paysinger and other LAPD officials.
"The identification of the officers involved in the Ezell Ford slaying allows us to determine if the officers performance record and that includes discipline for any prior instances of or pattern of misconduct or involvement in other officer shootings," Hutchinson said in a statement, adding that Wampler was involved in a prior use of force civil lawsuit. "The report that one of the officers was the subject of a civil suit for force is of major significance. This could be major factor in the investigation to find whether excessive force was used in the Ford killing."

Wampler was named in a civil rights lawsuit filed three years ago that claimed he, along with other officers, entered a family's home without probable cause, the lawsuit stated.

The suit alleges that the officers subjected them to unlawful searches, intimidation and assault.

"The majority of the family, the adults in the family, were abused, like physically hit and beat," the family's lawyer, James Segall Guttierez, told NBC4. "One of the brothers was being, his head was being held underwater in a kiddie pool."

Wampler was commended years before the suit for his role in the arrest of a double-murder suspect, the Los Angeles Times reported.

When asked for comment, LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith said the department is prohibited by law and policy from discussing personnel complaints.
A funeral for Ford is planned for Saturday. The incident came two days after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The Brown shooting touched off days of protests.

Robert Kovacik contributed to this report.

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