Echoes of Ferguson, Missouri in the death of Ezell Ford

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Ezell Ford was shot to death Monday evening in the Florence area in a confrontation with two LAPD gang officers who tried to question him in what they call an investigative stop.

Some witnesses say the 25-year-old was on the ground and complying with officers’ orders when he was shot in the back.

With criticism mounting, the LAPD is trying to correct what it calls “misinformation” about the case. Commander Andrew Smith says Ford was anything but compliant when he was approached by the officers on West 65th Street. Smith says Ford tried to tackle one of the officers and reached for his gun. Both officers ended up firing their weapons and Ford died at a hospital.

Ford was not unknown to police. He’d previously been convicted for having a loaded gun, marijuana possession and trespassing. His family says he was mentally ill and non-violent. They’re planning a protest rally in front of police headquarters on Sunday.

KCRW’s Madeline Brand spoke to Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable on today’s Press Play. Listen here.

Hutchinson says his organization and other civil rights organizations are urging the LAPD to make this a priority. He also explains that Ford, who suffered from mental illness, was well-known in the community even among police officers who patrol the area.

These investigations often take a long time and lack transparency, says Hutchinson. “We don’t know what’s going on until it’s complete. And once the decision is made, it’s almost always to exonerate police officers of any wrong doing.”