Policemen Who Shot Unarmed Black Man Sue L.A. for Racial Discrimination

Officers Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas killed Ezell Ford during a confrontation in 2014, two days after police shot dead another unarmed black teenager in Ferguson.

Brendan O'Brien
Demonstrators protest the shooting death of Michael Brown on August 23, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.
Demonstrators protest the shooting death of Michael Brown on August 23, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.Credit: AFP
Brendan O'Brien

REUTERS – Two Los Angeles police officers who shot dead an unarmed black man in 2014 are suing the city for alleged racial discrimination and retaliation after not being allowed to return to the field, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Officers Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas killed Ezell Ford, 25, during a confrontation. They have not yet been charged, according to the Times. Ford was described by family attorneys as mentally challenged.

In a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Wednesday, the officers accused supervisors of denying their requests to return to the field based on their race and the race of Ezell Ford, the paper reported.

Villegas is Latino and Wampler is said to be Caucasian in the suit, but department records have him listed him as Asian American, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The lawsuit also says that the officers have been denied transfers, overtime and promotions because of their race, and that they have faced retaliation after they filed complaints over racial discrimination with state regulators in 2015, the paper said.

A spokesman for the L.A. city attorney's office told the Times they were reviewing the lawsuit but could not comment further.

City officials were not immediately available for comment.

Ford's death came two days after police shot dead another unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, triggering protests, some violent, across the country over the excessive use of force by police.

Since then the debate over policing and racism has intensified in the United States where a string of fatal shootings of black men and women by officers, as well as other racially motivated killings, have fueled anger and given rise to the Black Lives Matter protest movement.

In July, high-profile police shootings of two black men in Minnesota and Louisiana were followed by an African-American former U.S. soldier killing five policemen in Dallas in retaliation.

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