Los Angeles Police Department releases names of 2 officers who shot and killed black man

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LOS ANGELES — Police on Thursday released the names of two veteran officers who shot and killed a black man more than two weeks ago.

The officers were identified on the LAPD's website as Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas, who were assigned to the Gang Enforcement Detail in the Newton Area in south Los Angeles.

The man who was killed, 25-year-old Ezell Ford, was not carrying a weapon, but he was reaching for one officer's gun when the two shot him, police said.

LAPD records show Wampler has been on the force for 12 years and Villegas for eight years, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"The LAPD has a longstanding policy of releasing the names of officers involved in shootings after investigating evidence of threats that could jeopardize the personal safety of the officers or their families," the police news release said. "In this particular case, it was necessary to investigate evidence brought to the department's attention regarding potential threats to the safety of the officers and ensure that measures were taken to mitigate those threats."

The statement didn't elaborate on the nature of the threats.

Ford's death has brought protests and calls for action from black community leaders.

Police said Ford was walking on 65th Street shortly after 8 p.m. Aug. 11 when the officers stopped their patrol car and tried to talk to him.

Ford continued walking and "made suspicious movements, including attempting to conceal his hands," a police statement said.

When the officers got closer, Ford turned and grappled with one officer. They fell down, and Ford tried to take the officer's gun from his holster, police said.

Both officers shot him.

Ford's autopsy results have been withheld at the LAPD's request. The department has said it doesn't want potential shooting witnesses to read or hear about details, such as the number and location of bullet wounds, until investigators have interviewed them.

However, the department has said the information will be released later.

A family friend, Dorene Henderson, told the Times she witnessed some of the confrontation and saw no struggle between the officers and Ford.

A family member told the newspaper that Ford had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression.

The shooting prompted a few peaceful protests, although there has been nothing like the violence that followed the police killing earlier this month of Michael Brown, 18, an unarmed black man, in the St. Louis, Missouri, suburb of Ferguson.

"I am glad to see LAPD release the names and give the community some of the answers they are seeking, as we all look to heal from this incident," City Councilman Curren Price said.

Black community activist Earl Ofari Hutchinson said making the officers' names public is a first step to ensuring there is a "transparent and impartial investigation" into the shooting because activists will be able to check the officers' records for misconduct or involvement in other shootings.

Funeral services for Ford are scheduled for Saturday morning.

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