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Ezell Earl Ford, 25

Ezell Earl Ford (2014-08-11)

Ezell Earl Ford, a 25-year-old black man, was fatally shot in an officer-involved shooting Monday, Aug. 11 near West 65th Street and Broadway in Florence, according to police and family members.

LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith said that two veteran gang unit officers with the Newton Division were conducting an investigative stop after “observing Mr. Ford on the sidewalk at 65th Street.”

When the two officers got out of their cruiser and began walking toward him on the sidewalk shortly before 8:10 p.m., Smith said that Ford “whirled around and basically attacked the lead officer.”

A struggle then ensued for the officer’s weapon, he added.

“Ultimately, Mr. Ford was shot by the police officer’s partner and by the officer who was trying to maintain control of his gun,” Smith said.

The officer in the struggle was unable to get control of his regular weapon so he had to use his “backup weapon to shoot the suspect,” Smith said, adding that the officer was on his back at the time.

After the shooting, Smith said that officers did handcuff Ford, as is standard practice and training for LAPD officers in the wake of such an incident.

Some who live in the area questioned the police account. A friend of Ford’s family, Dorene Henderson, 57, said she had just crossed the same street when she heard someone yell, “Get down, get down.”

One officer was already out of the car when Henderson said she heard a pop. She said neighbors began yelling at the officers, “He’s got mental problems.”

Other reports included allegations that Ford was complying with officers or had been subdued at the time of the shooting.

Ford was taken to California Hospital Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 10:10 p.m., said Ed Winter, the assistant chief of investigation with the coroner's office. An autopsy performed Aug. 14 concluded that Ford died of multiple gunshot wounds, Winter said.

Those statements prompted a backlash on social media with many people comparing Ford’s death to the shooting of a young, unarmed black man in Ferguson, Mo., that sparked ongoing protests and national headlines.

His mother, Tritobia Ford, 42, said that her son was mentally ill and many in the neighborhood – including police – were aware of his illness.

Ford said that her son was diagnosed with depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Police investigators are asking eyewitnesses or anyone with video footage of the incident to come forward.

Anyone with information on this incident is asked to call Force Investigation Division at (213) 486-5230, or the Office of the Inspector General at (213) 482-6833.

Update: An earlier version of this post reported that Dorene Henderson is a relative of Ford's.  Henderson is a family friend. An earlier version also said that Ford's family said he was not resisting arrest. We have clarified that statement to say that some who lived in the area questioned the police account.

Update: This post has been updated to reflect information from the coroner's office, including the time Ford died, his last name and the cause of death.

--Kate Mather, Richard Winton and Ruben Vives

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