The Los Angeles Police Department released an autopsy on Monday revealing that a mentally ill black man killed by LAPD officers in August was shot three times, including once in the back, according to television station KABC.
The autopsy stated that the shot to Ezell Ford’s back and another to his abdomen were fatal, according to the TV station. The wound on his back revealed a muzzle imprint from the gun, suggesting the shot was fired at close range, the station reported.
Several witnesses said Ford was face down on the ground when he was shot, the station reported. But police said he was killed while resisting arrest and had “grabbed the officer’s handgun and attempted to remove the gun from its holster.”
“The officer yelled out to his partner that Mr. Ford had his gun. The officer’s partner then fired two rounds striking Mr. Ford,” the LAPD said in a statement, as quoted by KABC. “At about the same time, the officer on the ground while on his back grabbed his backup weapon, reached around Mr. Ford and fired one shot at close range striking Mr. Ford in the back.”
The Ford family’s lawyer called it an execution.
“I dare say that this is criminal, I think they executed this poor young man, mentally incompetent man,” said attorney Steven Lerman, according to the news station.
Ed. note: This post has been updated to clarify that there is a dispute about whether Ford had grabbed the officer’s gun.
Police were looking for a bank robber when they arrested Charles Belk on Friday night. The profile of the suspect was tall, black, and bald. And so is Belk. They were both wearing green shirts. That’s all the information they had. And that’s all the information they deemed necessary to hold Belk for six hours late Friday night, according to the accounts of Belk and his lawyer.
Within seconds, I was detained and told to sit on the curb of the very busy street, during rush hour traffic.
Within minutes, I was surrounded by 6 police cars, handcuffed very tightly, fully searched for weapons, and placed back on the curb.
Within an hour, I was transported to the Beverly Hills Police Headquarters, photographed, finger printed and put under a $100,000 bail and accused of armed bank robbery and accessory to robbery of a Citibank.
Within an evening, I was wrongly arrested, locked up, denied a phone call, denied explanation of charges against me, denied ever being read my rights, denied being able to speak to my lawyer for a lengthy time, and denied being told that my car had been impounded…..All because I was mis-indentified as the wrong “tall, bald head, black male,” … “fitting the description.”
Belk is a well-connected film and television producer who was en route to an Emmy pre-party later that night. He notes that he “gets” the cops who cuffed him that night didn’t know he was an “award nominated and awarding winning business professional,” that he had been at “one of the finest hotels in their city,” just an hour earlier, and that he was a “well educated American citizen.” “What I don’t get………WHAT I DON”T GET,” he writes. “is, why, during the 45 minutes that they had me on the curb, handcuffed in the sun, before they locked me up and took away my civil rights, that they could not simply review the ATM and bank’s HD video footage to clearly see that the “tall, bald-headed, black male”… did not fit MY description.”
Once Belk was eventually permitted to make a phone call, he used his connections to find criminal defense lawyer Jaaye Person-Lynn, who left a wedding to come retrieve him late Friday night. When Person-Lynn got there, Belk was being held on $100,000 bail. Person-Lynn said he was there for an hour before he was able to see Belk. For 40 minutes, officers disputed that Belk had actually requested a lawyer and rejected requests to see him.
Person-Lynn said he had assumed before he arrived that for police to hold Belk that long, they must have had some sort of additional evidence that he committed the crime than his matching description. “I gave the cops the benefit of the doubt at that moment,” he said. “But unfortunately it didn’t end up that way.” It’s common knowledge among law enforcement that all cops have surveillance tapes. And they never even checked the tape until after Person-Lynn showed up to represent Belk. Once they watched the tape, it became immediately clear that the actual suspect didn’t look much like Belk and they released him.
It was midnight when Belk was finally released. But Person-Lynn said many other individuals who found themselves in Belk’s situation without his resources would likely have been detained at least until Monday, when a district attorney would have been able to ask him some questions and more defense lawyers were back at work.
Belk also imagined that his arrest could have been worse: he almost ran to his car to check his parking meter, but slowed to a walk when he received a text.
“[I]f it wasn’t for a text message that I was responding to, I would have actually been running up LaCienega Blvd when the first Beverly Hills Police Officer approached me. Running!” he wrote.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, another prominent black man, recounted a story of being stopped by police in another tony neighborhood, Georgetown in Washington, D.C., when he was running to get to a movie in time and police flashed their vehicle lights as they yelled “Where are you going? Hold it!”
“I am the Attorney General of the United States. But I am also a black man,” Holder said last week in a visit to Ferguson, Missouri, where he recalled the stop again. Speaking of several other incidents in which he was pulled over the highway and had his car searched, he said, “I remember how humiliating that was and how angry I was and the impact it had on me.”
In Belk’s case, Person-Lynn didn’t fault the officers for stopping Belk initially, given that he fit the description of what they were looking for. It’s the “overreaction” that followed — and it’s overreaction that he says is epidemic against black men.
“They need to do their due diligence in determining that I either am or am not the person they are looking for,” he said. “It’s worth a few minutes. Stand on the curb while they review the surveillance tape. I don’t think it should have lasted ten minutes. But six hours is ridiculous to take a man’s liberty away when it’s something so clear that he was not involved.” He added, “Whoever really did it got a six-hour lead.”
A representative for the Beverly Hills Police Department did not issue a planned statement before press time.
If the truth be told, Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, Detroit and other “urban” areas across the country have been experiencing this for decades. Perhaps now in today’s social media world, more eyes and ears can hear about or witness the injustices and unite in helping to alleviate the problem.
Let me give you an example of something I witnessed in my teens. A neighbor’s 14 year old son was sitting on their “stoop” on Thanksgiving Day when an officer approached him and told him to move. At some point the officer shot and killed the kid. He claimed in Court that he had some sort of seizure (that defense seemed to be successfully used in a lot of cases against police officers) and the officer was acquitted.
LOS ANGELES — Thousands of protesters marched through downtown LA on Sunday afternoon to demand justice for Ezell Ford, the 25-year-old black man who was shot and killed by two police officers while walking down the street near his home on Aug. 11.
Although the protest had been planned and publicized for 3 p.m., a group had already gathered outside the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters around 2:30. Many present carried signs calling for an end to police brutality and justice for Ezell Ford and other unarmed civilians killed by police officers. One particularly striking sign spelled out “F*** the Police” in multicolored glitter paint.
The protesters ranged wildly in age, race, ethnicity and creed. Evelina Poston said she’d driven an hour and a half from San Bernardino because she was so disturbed by the LAPD’s handing of the case. LA resident Sandra Nunez, who was there with her young daughter, said she had been inspired to come because her son is a black teenager.
“I not only fear gang members killing my son, I fear police killing my son,” she said. “I feel helpless, because I don’t know who will protect him from them.”
Another local, David Bryant, a former member of the Nation of Islam, had protested in exactly the same place in 1992, after the trial for officers who had beaten Rodney King.
“That was over 20 years ago — and here we go again. It’s deja vu,” he said. “But what else can you expect when you have prostitutes and cowards as politicians.”
Some of the protesters wore the Guy Fawkes masks that members of the techno-anarchist group Anonymous use as their symbol. One who identified himself as “Tank the Gemini” said his group has been involved in the fight against police brutality for several years and that he sees the Ford case as a particularly egregious example of an ongoing trend.
By 3:20 p.m., the group had swelled to several hundred people — too many to fit on the sidewalk outside police headquarters. One of the attendees, Kelly Kunta — a thin, bearded black man wearing a rastacap — started leading call-and-response chants calling for justice for Ford. The mood of the protesters became increasingly passionate as they joined in.
Soon, Kunta and several other activists started leading the group away from the LAPD headquarters on a march north on Main Street.
One small blow, perhaps, to the burgeoning Prison Industrial Complex. From NBC News:
Nearly 20 L.A. current and former sheriff’s deputies were expected to be arrested Monday in connection with a two-year- federal probe into corruption and inmate abuse in the Los Angeles County jail system, law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation said Monday.Some 18 deputies, most still active in the department, were either arrested without incident or were expected to surrender Monday to agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to the sources. None of those arrested ranked higher than lieutenant.
The sources said that the deputies are alleged to have committed crimes that include use of force under color of authority and obstruction of justice. The investigation is ongoing, according to sources, but the arrests seem to culminate an investigation that included allegations that deputies tried to hide an informant who was providing information to the FBI while locked up after the deputies discovered the informant had a cell phone.
According to the article, the informant was using his cellphone to provide the FBI with photos of the ongoing inmate abuse.
The article also says that much of the onus of these arrests will fall on L.A. Chief Sheriff Lee Baca, who is seeking a fifth term. In June, the Justice Department caught some of his deputies harassing and intimidating Blacks and Latinos in L.A.’s Antelope Valley district.
I’ve been hesitant to write about this story due to some unresolved ambivalence on my part.
On one hand, I recognize completely that Christopher Dorner coldly murdered four people. There is absolutely no justification for such actions by a sane and rational human being. The question remains, however, was he sane and rational? It seems to me Dorner had some serious psychological issues…yet…there was no talk of his psychological state. Only that a big black ex-Navy sniper was running wild killing police officers.
Sheriff’s office confirms pyrotechnic teargas canisters were launched into cabin but ‘we didn’t intend to burn it down’
Police have confirmed they started the blaze that engulfed Chris Dorner’s cabin but said the use of pyrotechnic canisters had not been intended to cause a fire.
“It was not on purpose. We didn’t intentionally burn down that cabin to get Mr Dorner out,” John McMahon, a spokesperson for San Bernardino sheriff’s department, told a news conference on Wednesday night.
Forensic scientists have not yet positively identified the human remains recovered from the cabin following Tuesday’s siege but McMahon said his department had little doubt they belonged to Dorner, 33, a former LAPD officer. “We believe that this investigation is over at this point.”
The LAPD stood down from high alert and resumed regular policing, marking the end of a week-long drama of shootouts, chases and the biggest US manhunt in living memory.
Riverside police buried officer Michael Crain, 34, a father of two gunned down last week, to the accompaniment of bagpipes after a funeral cortege was led by police motorcycles.
The San Bernardino sheriff’s department named the deputy who died in Tuesday’s siege as Jeremiah MacKay, 35, a married veteran of the force with a seven-year-old daughter and four-month-old son.
Witnesses filled in details of Dorner’s dramatic bid to escape the mountains of San Bernardino, where he had holed up for five days, but key questions were left unanswered.
A sheriff’s department spokesman declined to explain how deputies missed Dorner while he hid apparently for five days in a cabin five minutes’ walk from the command centre that was used to direct a dragnet of 200 officers.
In desperation authorities drummed up a $1m reward for information leading to his capture, thought to be the largest bounty in California’s history.
The search around the mountains east of LA had been winding down on Tuesday when two housekeepers entered the cabin. Dorner tied them up and made off in a stolen purple Nissan. One of the housekeepers freed herself and alerted authorities.
Fish and wildlife department officers intercepted the vehicle and gave chase. Dorner shot and hit their vehicle but caused no injuries. He crashed, then commandeered a silver Dodge Ram pick-up belonging to Angelus Oaks resident Rick Heltebrake. Dorner pointed a rifle at Heltebrake’s head and ordered him out.
“I did not feel like he wanted to hurt me,” said the local camp ranger. “It was clear I wasn’t part of his agenda and there were other people down the road that were part of his agenda. Unfortunately he found them and now we have one less sheriff’s deputy in San Bernardino.”
Dorner briefly shook off his pursuers by overtaking two school buses and leaving the highway, said Patrick Foy, a spokesman with the fish and wildlife department, but other units found him after he again crashed. He fled on foot to the nearest rental cabin and was swiftly surrounded.
Swat teams lobbed traditional teargas canisters into the cabin but as Dorner kept firing they switched to pyrotechnic ones. “It does generate a lot of heat. We introduced those canisters into the residence and a fire erupted,” said McMahon. Such devices were called burners, he said.
The spokesman’s insistence that the blaze was not intentional appeared to be put in question by an exchange between deputies at the scene during the scene. The exchange was heard on a police scanner and published by the journalist Max Blumenthal.
“We’re gonna go ahead with the plan with the burner. Like we talked about,” said one deputy. Minutes later another deputy’s voice said: “The burner’s deployed and we have a fire.” Social media buzzed with claims that police had sought to burn Dorner alive.
Fugitive ex-cop Christopher Dorner — wanted in connection with a deadly shooting rampage in Southern California — wrote a rambling manifesto referencing a number of TV hosts and journalists.
In the document attributed to Dorner, the man accused of killing three people promises to “bring unconventional and asymmetrical warfare to those in LAPD uniform whether on or off duty” and also praises several journalists:
Chris Matthews, Joe Scarborough, Pat Harvey, Brian Williams, Soledad Obrien, Wolf Blitzer, Meredith Viera, Tavis Smiley, and Anderson Cooper, keep up the great work and follow Cronkite’s lead. I hold many of you in the same regard as Tom Brokaw and the late Peter Jennings. Cooper, stop nagging and berating your guest, they’re your (guest). Mr. Scarborough, we met at McGuire’s pub in P-cola in 2002 when I was stationed there. It was an honor conversing with you about politics, family, and life.
Willie Geist, you’re a talented and charismatic journalist. Stop with all the talk show shenanigans and get back to your core of reporting. Your future is brighter than most.
Revoke the citizenship of Fareed Zakaria and deport him. I’ve never heard a positive word about America or its interest from his mouth, ever. On the same day, give Piers Morgan an indefinite resident alien and Visa card.
Dorner also picks out dozens of celebrities and other figures in the document. The LAPD believes Dorner wrote the manifesto because of details in it that only he would know, The Associated Press reported on Thursday. A copy of the manifesto can be found at KTTV-Fox 11 News, the Fox owned-and-operated television station in Los Angeles.
And on Thursday, CNN reported that Dorner also sent a package to CNN’s Anderson Cooper. Inside the parcel was a hand labeled DVD with a post-it note reading in part “I never lie,” and a souvenir LAPD medallion shot through with bullet holes. The package arrived Feb. 1, but Cooper said it was not opened by him and he first learned of it today.