Crime & Justice

Ezell Ford update: Police commission VP calls on LAPD to update training

Paula Madison speaks during the Leading Women Defined:  Our Power: A Global Perspective at Ritz Carlton Hotel on March 1, 2013 in Washington, DC.
Paula Madison speaks during the Leading Women Defined: Our Power: A Global Perspective at Ritz Carlton Hotel on March 1, 2013 in Washington, DC.
Kris Connor/Getty Images for BET

The Vice President of the Los Angeles Police Commission defended the recent ruling that an officer acted out of policy in the shooting death of Ezell Ford, an unarmed, mentally ill black man.

Paula Madison told NBC4 on Sunday that a 2013 California Supreme Court ruling required the commission to look at what led up to the incident — not just the shooting itself.

Last Tuesday, the commission found that one officer was out of policy when he approached 25-year-old Ezell Ford in a dangerous part of South Los Angeles. A report from the L.A. police inspector general found that the officers were justified in shooting him after he attempted to grab one of their guns. 

"First of all we have to establish that the law is a living, breathing institution," Madison told NBC4.  "A decision that was handed down by the California State Supreme Court in 2013 — Hayes vs. San Diego — ruled that when an instance of the use of deadly force occurs by the police, the body that is adjudicating whether or not it's in or out of police can in fact now [...] take into consideration the circumstances that lead up to the shooting."

Madison added that the commission had voted a year ago to abide by the court's decision in its rulings.  

She also responded to remarks that the head of L.A.'s police union made earlier that some LAPD officers were "shutting down" in fear that if they make a mistake the city won't back them up.

Craig Lally, president of the Police Protective League, said the commission's decision was a departure from previous protocol, and had many officers feeling betrayed.

"What I'd say to Mr. Lally and the police union is that it is without question a fact that police departments across the state should be taking a look at their training now that Hayes has been ruled upon by the state Supreme Court," Madison said.  

She denied that the commission had felt pressure from advocates in this or any decision they'd made. 

"There has been no pressure that bas been applied to us by either the community or the municipal government or the police that made us arrive at any decision," she said. 

 L.A. Police Chief Beck now has to determine what — if any — punishment the officer will face. Madison said he won't face any pressure from the commission.
 
"The decision about discipline or not is 100 percent up to the police chief," she said. "However, annually, the police commission reviews the performance of the police chief. So I will leave it there."

You can watch the full NBC interview with Madison below.