LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Funeral services were held Saturday morning for Ezell Ford, the man who was fatally shot during a police encounter in South Los Angeles nearly three weeks ago.
Large crowds attended the services for Ford, which got underway at 11 a.m., at the First A.M.E Church of Los Angeles.
“First A.M.E. Church of Los Angeles has a long history in the city,” said Michael Ellison-Lewis. “In many times in our City’s watershed moments in the history of the city, First A.M.E. Church has been there to cause for calm, for peace, for love, for joy, for hope in times of trial and tribulation.”
Ford died on Aug. 11, after being shot by two members of the Los Angeles Police Department. Police said Ford was combative and failed to comply. Police also allege that Ford had reached for one of the officer’s guns during a struggle.
Ford was unarmed at the time. He died at an area hospital. Ford’s family denies that he was capable of resisting the officers, and cited Ford’s mental challenges.
The shooting drew protests in South Los Angeles as well as vigils as people paid tribute to Ford and sought answers.
Ford’s death also came two days after the deadly police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. In both instances, witnesses dispute the police accounts.
Witnesses to the South Los Angeles shooting allege that Ford was not resisting the officers. Meanwhile, officials with the LAPD are seeking eyewitnesses to the Ford shooting, according to a news release issued by the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable.
“If you saw something, you must report it. You must give testimony. You must give disclosure. It does no good to say you saw something and you certainly are blasting the LAPD for the shooting, but you’re not coming forward,” said Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable President Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Saturday.
“LAPD officials insist they want a fair and impartial investigation in the Ford killing and this can only happen if eyewitnesses come forth,” Hutchinson added in a statement.
Ford had a big family — two parents and six siblings. Only one was able to speak at the funeral.
“I want to start out by saying, ‘I love you first, bro,'” said brother Malik, “I didn’t get a chance to say I loved you before you left me.”
CBS2’s Greg Mills reported that the immediate family was too distraught to speak to the media. He was able to speak to Ford’s grandmother, Dorothy Clark, just outside the church.
“It’s just sad, so sad,” Clark said, “We have so much sorrow.”
“Now that they have released the names [of the officers involved],” said Ford’s cousin, Todd Shipp, “now it’s up to the courts to see what they’re going to do about it.”
Many speakers were critical of law enforcement seemingly targeting “young black men.”
Asked to comment, LAPD Commander Andrew Smith texted Mills and said, “Today is a day of mourning for Mr. Ford’s family. It would be inappropriate to comment.”
In lieu of flowers, Ford’s family asked that donations be made in Ford’s name to the Youth Justice Coalition and L.A. on Cloud 9.