Ezell Ford

Ezell Ford had big dreams and an uphill fight for them. The 27-year-old suffered from asthma but didn’t let that stop him from playing basketball growing up. Indeed, “Easy” had a plan – professional basketball player by 20, and then a doctor by 50 – and he was working towards it, earning a scholarship to the prestigious Verbum Dei school in LA. Though he grew up in a Florence, California, neighborhood plagued by constant gang warfare, Ezell never joined a gang. Unfortunately, he couldn’t escape gang violence: at age 18, he was struck in the leg as a bystander in a drive-by shooting between two rival Crips gangs. After this, he became markedly and increasingly withdrawn socially and emotionally. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and put on a medication regimen that left him listless and confused. He used weed to help, and his family and neighbors watched after him – “the whole neighborhood took care of him.” Ezell would often go for out for walks, sometimes hours at a time, to clear his head.

Ezell Ford was murdered by police on August 11, 2014, for taking one of these walks. Two cops spied him and, presuming him armed for walking in “a gang area,” approached him with weapons drawn. They pinned Ezell on the ground, with one cop pushing his knee into back. Ezell tried to get the cop off his back, and in response they both shot him, once in Ezell’s side and once in his back. The entire altercation took 13 seconds. The cops would claim that Ezell reached for a gun or tried to ditch drugs, tough neither was ever found at the scene. As they handcuffed Ezell’s prone body, neighbors began to crowd the scene, yelling at the cops for shooting black kids (Michael Brown had been murdered by the police only two days prior in Missouri), though many dispersed once one of the cops drew his weapon on the crowd. The cops were never charged with a crime.

Black lives matter.

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