LAPD shooting victim’s family files $75 million federal civil rights lawsuit
The family of an unarmed black man shot dead by Los Angeles police accused the officers of violating his civil rights in a federal lawsuit filed on Wednesday and was seeking $75 million in damages from the city.
Police have said two officers shot and killed 25-year-old Ezell Ford, described by a family lawyer as mentally challenged, in mostly poor South Los Angeles on Aug. 11 after he struggled with an officer and tried to grab his gun.
The family attorney, Steven Lerman, disputed the police narrative of how Ford died but declined in a news conference outside a Los Angeles federal courthouse to give an alternate version of events. He said that would be presented in court.
“The $75 million claim against the city of Los Angeles should send a resonating message that we cannot tolerate or stand for the continued conduct of abuse, discrimination, racial profiling that allowed this poor man to be shot dead,” Lerman said.
The Ford shooting came amid heightened national scrutiny of police conduct two days after the fatal shooting of black teenager Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Missouri, where a wave of sometimes violent protests erupted in response.
Some critics of police use of force practices have drawn parallels between the deaths of the two unarmed men, and about 500 people rallied last month outside Los Angeles police headquarters to express anger over Ford’s death.
Police representatives and the city attorney’s office declined to comment on the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court and says Ford’s civil rights were violated.
The shooting remains under investigation. Police said in a statement two days after the shooting that the two officers had approached Ford to try to talk to him, and that Ford grabbed one officer and fell to the ground with him, trying to take his gun.
The officer’s partner fired at Ford, and the officer on the ground pulled out a backup gun and also shot him, police said.
Lerman declined to give details on Ford’s mental health, but said he was mentally challenged, harmless and known to pace his neighborhood and ask for cigarettes.
In another California case involving a controversial police shooting, a Los Angeles judge this week blocked the release of an independent review into the death of an unarmed black teenager by police in Pasadena, denying a request from civil rights groups.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis. Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Walsh)