The parents of an unarmed black man shot to death by two Los Angeles police officers have filed a second lawsuit against the police department and city, alleging their son was targeted for excessive force because of his skin color.
Los Angeles Police Department officials say two of its officers shot Ezell Ford, who was 25 and described by family attorneys as mentally challenged, on Aug. 11 last year after he struggled with one of them and tried to grab the policeman’s holstered service revolver.
Ford’s death came two days after the fatal police shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, that triggered a wave of protests alleging excessive use of force by authorities.
Civil rights activists have also expressed anger at a grand jury’s decision in December not to indict a New York City police officer for his role in the July asphyxiation death of another unarmed black man, 43-year-old Eric Garner.
Ford’s death was also greeted with demonstrations and the family has already filed a federal lawsuit over the shooting, seeking $75 million in damages.
The new wrongful death complaint was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday and seeks unspecified damages for compensatory and punitive damages.
The lawsuit charges that the city of Los Angeles and its police department have a long-standing policy and practice of violating civil rights and tolerating excessive force by its officers.
The plaintiffs also allege that the two officers, Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas, intentionally engaged in the use of excessive and deadly force during the incident, which was motivated “by Ford’s “status as an African American or his black skin tone.”
A Los Angeles Police Department spokeswoman declined to comment on the lawsuit. A spokesman for the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office could not immediately be reached for comment.