So far all we have been told is that LAPD officers subjected Ezell Ford to an investigatory stop ("stop and frisk") as he was walking down the street a few blocks from his home. The LAPD narrative goes on to say that Mr. Ford allegedly reached for one of the officers' guns so the officers shot him for their own safety (according to the autopsy, in the back and at such close range a muzzle imprint was left).
Not surprisingly, non-police witnesses contradict the officers' account and claim that Mr. Ford was complying with officer commands instead of reaching for one of their guns. But the essential question remains -- what legally justifiable reason did the LAPD officers have to subject Ezell Ford to a stop and frisk in the first place and thus put him in a position to be compliant or not? Was Mr. Ford the subject of legitimate law enforcement activity or -- as many suspect -- the victim of overbearing, racist and unconstitutional harassment that ended in a totally preventable deadly force police shooting?
Under the US Supreme Court case of Terry v. Ohio, an officer conducting an investigative stop must "be able to point to specific and articulable facts which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant that intrusion." So what are the specific and articulable facts that justified LAPD officers stopping Ezell Ford as he walked down the street in his own neighborhood?
So far the LAPD has given no indication that its officers did anything wrong when they accosted Mr. Ford for walking down the street. And its not likely the LAPD will demand any such accountability. A review of the four LAPD quarterly discipline reports for 2013 shows that the LAPD internal discipline system "sustained" ZERO percent of the 381 allegations of biased policing made against LAPD officers and ZERO percent of the 721 allegations of false imprisonment made against LAPD officers.
Eventually, the officers who stopped and ultimately killed Ezell Ford will need to justify their actions in civil court, in connection with his parents' civil rights lawsuit for the deadly force police shooting. But if we are ever going to have a trustworthy policing system we need the agencies themselves to step up and be accountable to the communities they police and families of people they kill.