Los Angeles

Mayor Garcetti, Police Chief Beck Comment on Ezell Ford Ruling

Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck on Sunday reiterated his support for rank-and-file officers in the aftermath of a controversial ruling in the Ezell Ford shooting case, but Mayor Eric Garcetti did not reiterate support for Beck.

Beck has limited his comments to the media as speculation grows in the aftermath of the Los Angeles Police Commission's ruling over an officer's actions in a fatal police shooting. The commission decided an officer violated Los Angeles Police Department policy in the fatal shooting of Ezell Ford last summer. The commission decided the officer's conduct influenced a scuffle in which police say Ford reached for an officer's gun, and was subsequently shot.

While the commission has the power to evaluate policy, it falls to Beck to decide how to discipline the officer involved.

"The Police Commission has its role, I had my role. I believe that they came to what they thought was the correct conclusion, just as I came to what I thought was the correct conclusion," Beck told NBC4 at the LA Pride Parade Sunday morning.

Beck had ruled the shooting was justified, as did an independent watchdog. And while the Police Commission acknowledged that there was physical evidence indicating Ford attempted to gain control of an officer’s weapon, it concluded that the officer was at fault for his actions prior to the confrontation that resulted in the use of deadly force.

The August shooting sparked months of protests in Los Angeles amid nationwide tensions over police officers' use of force against black people -- Ford, 25, was black. Protesters spoke for hours at the Tuesday Police Commission meeting when the ruling was released.

Asked at the parade if he supports Beck, Garcetti said: "Well, he has to make his decision."

“We might not always agree with each decision, but most importantly our city is at peace and we’ll continue to make sure that happens,” Garcetti said.

After the ruling was released, Beck recorded a video addressed to officers calling the commission's decision "a difficult thing for you to think about as you go out and risk your lives." The video, shot at LAPD headquarters, was later leaked to YouTube.

The video received criticism, part of a larger outcry over the shooting of Ezell Ford. Ford was shot Aug. 11 in South Los Angeles, after he lunged at an officer and grabbed for his weapon, according to a police account of the shooting.

Black Lives Matter protesters have called for Beck to be fired, seeking accountability for what they see as one of many unjust shootings.

But the president of the LAPD police union, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, had a different reaction, telling NBC4 he heard from officers that the commission's ruling made them less likely to pursue "proactive police work."

"The officers basically tell me they're going to roll up their windows ... and do their job. But other than that, they're just going to shut down," LAPPL President Craig Lally said.

Asked for his thoughts on those comments, Beck said he had faith his officers will continue working.

"Nobody becomes a Los Angeles police officer to not police," Beck said. "You know, this is a difficult job and I have the ultimate faith in my workforce."

Police Commission Vice President Paula Madison told NBC4's Conan Nolan that Beck's disciplinary decision would be part of his annual performance review.

Madison was formerly an executive at NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC4.

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