The mother of Ezell Ford, an unarmed black teenager shot and killed by LAPD officers during an altercation, filed a $75 million wrongful death lawsuit against the department Wednesday, arguing her son’s civil rights were violated the night he died.
Ford, 25, was fatally shot Aug. 11 after he allegedly struggled with two Los Angeles police officers from Newton Area Gang Enforcement Detail after he was stopped near 65th and Broadway streets. Police said Ford reached for an officer’s gun when they opened fire.
Family members have contradicted that narrative, and asserted that Ford was mentally ill and the officers should have better known how to deal with him.
“This was a homicide plain and simple,” said Steve Lerman, who is representing Ford’s family. “A disarmed, unarmed, helpless, hapless person who was shot to death for no reason other than two officers were bored on Monday at 8 p.m. and they knew Ezell Ford was handicapped.”
Lerman, who represented Rodney King in his lawsuit against LAPD 22 years ago, did not elaborate on why the family believed the two officers knew Ford was handicapped, but said new evidence and scores of witnesses have come forward in the case who will back up his claims.
Ford’s death has sparked outrage, demonstrations and marches from activists who say they’re fed up with the recurring problem of law enforcement and how they deal with the mentally ill.
Ford battled bipolar and schizophrenia, according to Lerman, the family attorney.
The family’s claim argues officers Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas unjustifiably shot Ford and denied him due process.
LAPD did not comment on the lawsuit because the investigation is ongoing and the department does not comment on pending litigation.