Los Angeles

Funeral Service Held for Ezell Ford; Activists Call on Witnesses to Come Forward

A funeral service was held Saturday for an unarmed man who was fatally shot by police in South Los Angeles as local activists called on witnesses to come forward in the case.

The First A.M.E. Church  hosted the service for 25-year-old Ezell Ford at 11 a.m. at 2270 S. Harvard Blvd.

"You’re so wonderful to think of and so hard to live without," said Ford's grandmother, Dorothy Clark.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who attended Michael Brown’s funeral service in St. Louis, was also at the ceremony held for Ford.

 "Ezell Ford didn’t deserve to die simply because he was mentally challenged," Waters said.

Ford was fatally shot August 11 after he allegedly struggled with two Los Angeles police officers assigned to the Newton Area Gang Enforcement Detail. Police said Ford reached for an officer’s gun when they opened fire.

Family members of Ford refute LAPD accounts, and local civil rights activists were expected to publicly call on witnesses to come forward during a press conference Saturday afternoon.

"LAPD officials insist they want a fair and impartial investigation in the Ford killing and this can only happen if eyewitnesses come forth," Hutchinson said in a statement. "Some witnesses dispute the LAPD version of how Ford was killed. So we will make that public appeal for them and other eyewitnesses to give testimony."

Ford’s family members said they are hoping for justice after their attorney files a wrongful death civil rights lawsuit against the LAPD late next month.

“This horrifying act these officers committed, murder by badge is murder nonetheless,” said Ford family attorney Steve Lerman.

The names of the officers involved in the shooting were released Thursday: Officers Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Vargas.

"The identification of the officers involved in the Ezell Ford slaying allows us to determine if the officers performance record and that includes discipline for any prior instances of or pattern of misconduct or involvement in other officer shootings," Hutchinson said in a statement Thursday, adding that Wampler was involved in a prior use of force civil lawsuit. "The report that one of the officers was the subject of a civil suit for force is of major significance. This could be major factor in the investigation to find whether excessive force was used in the Ford killing."

Wampler was named in a civil rights lawsuit filed three years ago that claimed he, along with other officers, entered a family's home without probable cause, the lawsuit stated.

Another civil rights group was expected to protest officer-involved killings during a demonstration in front of LAPD headquarters at 3 p.m. Saturday.

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