The Los Angeles Police Commission found that one officer wrongly approached and stopped a 25-year-old black man last year ultimately leading to the fatal close-range shooting of Ezell Ford and therefore violated department police, according to a new report.
The commission voted unanimously during a closed session Tuesday, finding that Officer Sharlton Wampler was unjustified in the August shooting of Ezell Ford but Officer Antonio Villegas was justified.
The commission found Wampler violated policy from his initial approach through the killing of Ford, the NY Daily News reported. Villegas was found in violation in one area – an earlier drawing of a gun before the final use of deadly force.
Their analysis, released hours later on Tuesday, demonstrated the first application of an updated use-of-force policy, adjusted last year to better mirror language in a California Supreme Court decision.
It requires reviewers to examine whether controversial decisions or actions by officers ultimately caused the confrontations that ended in the use of deadly force.
The commission looked at the “totality” of circumstances, not just when deadly force was used, and it found that “deficient tactics used by (Wampler) and the legally inappropriate detention of (Ford) led to the subsequent altercation, rendered the use of deadly force unreasonable and out of policy.”
Beck had recommended the officers’ actions be ruled justified and stated late Tuesday, “I respect the process and the decision made”.
Both Wampler and Villegas had been assigned to non-field administrative duties before the decision was made. It is unclear whether their assignments will now change in light of the decision.
The case will now go to the Police Department’s internal affairs group. The group’s findings, which will likely take months, will then be forwarded to Beck, who will determine what discipline the officers will face. Any decision on criminal charges would come from the district attorney.