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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Local civil rights leaders called today for a meeting with Los Angeles police officials to discuss concerns about the officer- involved shooting death of a 25-year-old black man.
At a news conference at the shooting scene in the 200 block of West 65th Street, Earl Ofari Hutchinson of the Los Angeles Urban Roundtable said eyewitnesses gave him and other civil rights leaders ``a conflicting version of the shooting that disputed the LAPD version.''
He identified the fatally wounded man, whose name was being withheld by the coroner's office, as Ezell Ford.
``They said Ford was not resisting, that he had mental challenges, and that police officers in the area were well aware of him and his condition,'' Hutchinson said.
``The fact that several eyewitnesses dispute the police version of Ford's killing makes it even more urgent for the LAPD to meet with civil rights leaders and place their investigation on a fast-track footing,'' he said.
Los Angeles Police Department Cmdr. Andy Smith said Earl Paysinger, in his capacity as the acting chief today, talked with Hutchinson this afternoon, adding that he expects Chief Charlie Beck to meet with civil rights leaders as the investigation progresses.
He stressed that the investigation is still preliminary, and acknowledged that ``some of the folks from the neighborhood'' have a different account from the LAPD's version at this point.
The LAPD this afternoon offered an updated narrative of what happened on Monday at about 8:10 p.m.
According to the LAPD, two uniformed officers driving in a marked police car and assigned to the Newton Area Gang Enforcement Detail were westbound on 65th Street, approaching Broadway, when they saw a man walking on an adjacent sidewalk.
``The officers stopped the patrol car, exited the vehicle, and attempted to talk to the individual. After looking in the officers' direction, however, the individual continued walking and made suspicious movements, including attempting to conceal his hands,'' according to the LAPD statement.
``When the officers got closer and attempted to stop the individual, the individual turned, grabbed one of the officers, and a struggle ensued. During the struggle, they fell to the ground and the individual attempted to remove the officer's handgun from its holster,'' the statement says. ``The partner officer then fired his handgun and the officer on the ground fired his backup weapon at the individual. After the officers fired their handguns at the individual, they were able to handcuff him and call for a rescue ambulance.''
The department views any loss of human life ``as a great tragedy,'' and asks anyone who witnessed what happened to contact the Force Investigation Division at (213) 486-5230.
''To assist in our investigation, we ask that if you were a witness to the incident, have any physical evidence such as a video recording or have any other information, to please contact the LAPD or the Office of the Inspector General so that we can ensure a full, fair and through investigation,'' the statement says.