The vice president of the Los Angeles Police Commission strongly defended the panel's finding in the Ezell Ford shooting case, saying that a 2013 California Supreme Court decision required them to look at the circumstances that led up to the incident and not just the shooting itself.
Paula Madison, a former executive at NBCUniversal, cited the state high court's ruling in the case of Hayes vs. San Diego as the reason why LAPD officer Sharlton Wampler was found to have violated department policy in Ford's death. The "Hayes" decision allowed panels revising use of force issues to take the totality of an officer's conduct into account.
"The pre-shooting actions taken by the police, come into consideration and that changed everything," Madison said in a taping of NBC4's "News Conference" program.
The five-member commission, which provides civilian oversight of the LAPD, unanimously rejected Police Chief Charlie Beck's determination that the shooting of Ford by officers Wampler and partner Antonio Villegas was justified. The Police Commission acknowledged that there was physical evidence indicating Ford attempted to gain control of Wampler's weapon, but concluded that the officer was at fault for his actions prior to the confrontation that resulted in the use of deadly force.
Madison was asked if the "out of policy" determination would still apply if Ford had successfully obtained the police sidearm and shot the two officers.
"It's possible but I have a difficult time speculating," she said.
Madison did not speak directly to claims from the police union that officers will forgo proactive law enforcement fearing the city won't support them in use of force cases. The police commission vice president said that LAPD officers need to reflect on their training and the fact the law has changed.
"If you go back 100 years, slavery was legal. If you go back to the 20th century, women were not allowed to vote. It is a very different world today," she said.
Any decision on discipline for one or both officers will now come from Chief Beck. Madison would not indicate what her preference would be regarding punishment but implied whatever decision the chief makes will be part of his annual performance review by the commission.
The News Conference interview airs at 9 a.m. Sunday following "Meet the Press" on NBC4. Also appearing on the program is Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson.