The Los Angeles Police Department has employed an “investigative hold” to postpone the release of Ezell Ford’s autopsy. Ford was a 25-year-old African-American man who was shot and killed by police in South Central Los Angeles just days after 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Missouri.
According to the LAPD, investigative holds are a common move to prevent tampering with the testimony of witnesses, who may be swayed by the information they read, KPCC reported.
But members of Ford’s Los Angeles community have interpreted the hold as a move by the LAPD to “cover their tracks,” Jubilee Shine told KPCC. Ford was unarmed, lying on the ground and complying with police commands when he was shot in the back, says Ford’s mother Tritobia Ford, KTLA reported. A witness has said that she saw Ford handcuffed, lying on his stomach on the ground, and shot dead, NPR reported. LAPD maintains that Ford was pulled aside for an “investigative stop” when he went for an officer’s gun when he was shot.
Over the weekend, hundreds gathered in Los Angeles to protest Ford’s killing and demand justice for him. The protests, however, have been markedly different. For one, police officers have held off on a heavily militarized response to protesters, unlike in Ferguson.
LAPD Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger had his own theory, though. “The difference between this instance and what we see back East I think has to do with the confidence that the public has in the police department to conduct an immediate, a thorough, a thoughtful investigation,” Paysinger told NPR this weekend.