4 Dead Unarmed Men and the Police: What You Need to Know

Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Ezell Ford and John Crawford III all died after confrontations with police, and their deaths are still shrouded in mystery, even as the black community reels from the losses. 

Eric Garner. John Crawford III. Michael Brown. Ezell Ford.

You should recognize these names. They all belong to unarmed black men who were killed by law enforcement since July 2014 for seemingly inexplicable reasons: allegedly selling loose cigarettes, allegedly holding a toy gun in the toy section of Wal-Mart, allegedly running away after a scuffle with the cops, and allegedly complying with police and lying down on the street.

All of these cases are in varying stages of investigation. Here’s a roundup of what you need to know about each one:

Ezell Ford

Family says: Ford’s family claims that when he was shot Aug. 11 in South Los Angeles, he was obeying Los Angeles Police Department officers and lying on the ground. The 25-year-old, who was mentally disabled, was stopped by police for what was described as “investigative” reasons. A cousin, who did not want to be identified, said that the unarmed young man was laid out before he was shot in the back three times. Ford was rushed to the hospital, where he had to undergo surgery, but he did not make it. Tritobia Ford, who was identified as the young man’s mother, said that the police would not tell her where her son was hospitalized.

Officers say: During the “investigative stop,” there was allegedly a “struggle” that caused shots to be fired, according to an LAPD news release. The officers involved did not require medical attention, although they did reportedly have minor scrapes. The department also said that it was unaware of any information being withheld from the family.

Any charges? So far no charges have been filed in this particular case, but the officer responsible, who has yet to be identified, has been put on paid administrative leave as the incident is investigated. According to reports, LAPD police Chief Charlie Beck, the Office of the Inspector General and the Board of Police Commissioners are expected to review the case.

Community reaction: Twitter has taken the lead on this case, as usual, with the hashtag #EzellFord. News of Ford’s death is still spreading online and in real life as the nation reels from the loss of Ferguson, Mo.’s “gentle giant,” Michael Brown. According to reports, a rally for Ford is being planned for Sunday, Aug. 17, at LAPD headquarters.