Two Los Angeles police officers involved in the fatal shooting of a mentally ill man in South Los Angeles in 2014 sued the city Wednesday, alleging they are being kept from returning to field duty due to racial discrimination and retaliation, reports KNBC.
Officers Tony Villegas and Sharlton Wampler were both assigned to the Newton Division's gang unit when they encountered 25-year-old Ezell Ford Jr. on Aug. 11, 2014.
The suit states that Ford attempted to grab Wampler's firearm and, fearing for his life and that of Villegas, the officer grabbed the backup firearm holstered to his leg and shot Ford, who died at the scene.
"The chief (Charlie Beck) declared that all aspects of the shooting were within policy. Plaintiffs were cleared by the department," the suit says.
However, the Police Commission -- described in the lawsuit as "an inexperienced group of political appointees" - overturned the LAPD's findings and found the shooting was out of policy.
The officers were temporarily assigned to administrative duties but "remain benched today although they committed no misconduct," their suit says.
Villegas, who is Latino, has been told he cannot do outside work; Wampler, who is white, has been denied a patrol bonus; and neither officer can be promoted to the rank of sergeant because of their non-field status, their suit says.