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Black Americans killed by police twice as likely to be unarmed as white people


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Guardian analysis finds 102 people killed by police so far this year were unarmed, and that agencies are killing people at twice the rate calculated by US government

 

 

 

Jon Swaine, Oliver Laughland and Jamiles Lartey in New York

 

Monday 1 June 2015 13.38 BST

 

 

 

Black Americans are more than twice as likely to be unarmed when killed during encounters with police as white people, according to a Guardian investigation which found 102 of 464 people killed so far this year in incidents with law enforcement officers were not carrying weapons.

 

An analysis of public records, local news reports and Guardian reporting found that 32% of black people killed by police in 2015 were unarmed, as were 25% of Hispanic and Latino people, compared with 15% of white people killed.

 

The findings emerged from a database filled by a five-month study of police fatalities in the US, which calculated that local and state police and federal law enforcement agencies are killing people at twice the rate calculated by the US government’s official public record of police homicides. The database names five people whose names have not been publicly released.

 

The Guardian’s statistics include deaths after the police use of a Taser, deaths caused by police vehicles and deaths following altercations in police custody, as well as those killed when officers open fire. They reveal that 29% of those killed by police, or 135 people, were black. Sixty-seven, or 14%, were Hispanic/Latino, and 234, or 50%, were white. In total, 102 people who died during encounters with law enforcement in 2015 were unarmed.

 

The figures illustrate how disproportionately black Americans, who make up just 13% of the country’s total population according to census data, are killed by police. Of the 464 people counted by the Guardian, an overwhelming majority – 95% – were male, with just 5% female.

 

Steven Hawkins, the executive director Amnesty International USA, described the racial imbalance as “startling”. Hawkins said: “The disparity speaks to something that needs to be examined, to get to the bottom of why you’re twice as likely to be shot if you’re an unarmed black male.”

 

Relatives of unarmed people killed by police in high-profile incidents during the past year – including Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tony Robinson and Walter Scott – described the Guardian project as a breakthrough in the national debate over the use of deadly force by law enforcement.

 

“Giving this kind of data to the public is a big thing,” said Erica Garner, whose father’s killing by police in New York City last year led to international protests. “Other incidents like murders and robberies are counted, so why not police-involved killings? With better records, we can look at what is happening and what might need to change.”

 

The initiative was also praised by a range of policing experts and by campaigners who are urging government authorities to make the official recording of fatalities mandatory for all 18,000 police departments and law enforcement agencies operating in the US.

 

“It’s troubling that we have no official data from the federal government,” said Laurie Robinson, the co-chair of Barack Obama’s task force on 21st-century policing. “I think it’s very helpful, in light of that fact, to have this kind of research undertaken.”

 

Beginning on Monday, the Guardian is publishing The Counted, a comprehensive interactive database monitoring all police killings in the US through 16 data points including age, location, gender, ethnicity, whether the person killed was armed and which policing agency was responsible.

 

The Counted logs the precise location of each fatal incident, providing what is the most detailed map of police killings ever published. California, America’s most populous state, has the highest total with 74 fatalities so far this year.

 

However, an analysis of location data shows that Oklahoma, where 22 people have died through encounters with law enforcement, is the state with the highest rate of fatal incidents per person in 2015, at one fatality per 175,000 people over five months.

 

Over the weekend, Nehemiah Fischer, a 35-year-old pastor, was shot dead by an Oklahoma state trooper after getting into a fight when told to evacuate his truck in rising flood waters south of Tulsa. Police have said Fischer had a firearm but have not explained whether he was armed during the confrontation.

 

The database, which will combine Guardian reporting with verified crowdsourced information, has logged 464 police killings for the first five months of 2015. The US government’s record, which is run by the FBI, counted 461 “justifiable homicides” by law enforcement in all of 2013, the latest year for which official data is available.

 

The vast majority of deaths recorded – 408 – were caused by gunshot. Of the 27 deaths that occurred after a Taser was deployed by law enforcement, all but one involved an unarmed person.

 

On Sunday, Richard Davis, an unarmed black 50-year-old, died after being shocked with a Taser by police in Rochester, New York. Davis was said by authorities to have run from his truck towards officers with clenched fists after being told to put his hands up following a crash. Relatives said he was a veteran of the US marines.

 

The Guardian has also identified 14 officer-involved deaths following altercations in custody. The total includes Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old resident of Baltimore whose death from a broken neck sustained in a police van led to protests, rioting and the indictment of six city police officers.

 

Another 12 people died following collisions with law enforcement vehicles. The family of Bernard Moore, who was 62, are calling for the criminal prosecution of an officer who fatally struck Moore with his squad car in Atlanta, allegedly while speeding without emergency lights or sirens on.

 

By logging each law enforcement agency involved in the 464 deaths, the Guardian can also now report that the Los Angeles police department, the country’s third largest local police department, has been involved in the highest number of deaths of any local department. This year, 10 people have died in encounters with LAPD officers, of whom five were unarmed.

 

The Oklahoma City police department and the Los Angeles sheriff’s office were both involved in five deaths, two individuals in both of these jurisdictions being unarmed.

 

High-profile cases in Los Angeles, like the death of unarmed Charly “Africa” Keunang, shot dead by LAPD officers on 1 March in the city’s homeless district of Skid Row, garnered national attention.

 

But cases like those of Sergio Navas, an unarmed Hispanic man shot dead by LAPD officers in the same month as Keunang, after police said he stole a vehicle and was chased down, have had less media scrutiny. Navas’s family have launched an excessive force lawsuit against the LAPD and accused them of a covering up the circumstances of the 35-year-old’s death.

 

The Guardian has also monitored whether mental health issues were identified, either by family members, friends or police following each fatal encounter. In total 26% of people killed by police exhibited some sort of mental illness, with at least 29 cases identified where the person killed was suicidal.

 

For example, Monique Deckard, a black woman with a long history of mental illness, was shot and killed by police officers in Anaheim, California, after she was accused of stabbing a woman at a laundromat and allegedly charging at officers. Her family had called police just hours before the attack, warning that they could not get in contact with her and that she might be trying to find a gun.

 

The average age of a person killed by police in 2015 was 37, but The Counted identifies a huge diversity in the ages of those killed.

 

The oldest, 87-year-old Louis Becker, was killed during a collision with a New York state trooper patrol car in upstate New York. Eighty-two-year-old Richard “Buddy” Weaver was killed by Oklahoma City police after he allegedly raised a machete at an officer who opened fire; neighbors later described Weaver as having schizophrenia.

 

The three youngest people identified were all 16 years old. A’donte Washington, a black American, was shot dead by Millbrook police officers in Arizona on 23 February during an alleged burglary after the teenager was described as pointing a weapon at arriving officers. His family have questioned the police narrative, while the city mayor described the shooting as “110% justified”.

 

A week earlier, on 14 February, Jason Hendrix, a white 16-year-old was shot dead in a gunfight by Baltimore County police after the teenager murdered his mother, father and sister in Corbin, Kentucky, and drove to Maryland, where he is reported to have opened fire on an officer after a car chase. Six returned fire and killed him.

 

A month later, on 19 March, black 16-year-old Kendre Alston was shot dead by a deputy of the Jacksonville sheriff’s office in Florida. Police claimed Alston fled from a stolen car and brandished a weapon at the pursuing official who then opened fire. Deneane Campbell, Alston’s mother, claimed in an interview two weeks later she had not been given any further details by police.

 

Some relatives of people killed by police said they had been unaware of the dearth of publicly available information on police-involved fatalities until their family became affected. Anthony Scott, whose brother Walter was shot dead in April by police officer Michael Slager in North Charleston, South Carolina, said the lack of public information “came as a surprise”.

 

“I was not informed, I was not aware, I just had an idea these situations were happening in the United States,” Scott told the Guardian. “The public need to know what is happening and be made more informed. With them being more informed they would be able to react differently, in a positive way, to make changes, to make sure some of these things don’t happen again.”

 

 

 

Various  data charts on link

 

 

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jun/01/black-americans-killed-by-police-analysis

 

 

 
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Thats a easy one umbert.

Its sad to say cause I dont want the hate to come down on me. but most blacks unless they are criminally motivated dont express there 2nd amendment rights like white folk do. I have many black hunting buddys who love their hunting guns . But do not carry for self protection.  

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Thats a easy one umbert.

Its sad to say cause I dont want the hate to come down on me. but most blacks unless they are criminally motivated dont express there 2nd amendment rights like white folk do. I have many black hunting buddys who love their hunting guns . But do not carry for self protection.  

Besides the title of this post is kinda asinine anyway. If you get killed by the police its normally cause you are breaking the law. Not always agreed but most the time.   Has it really came down to this that people honestly think that most blacks that are killed by the police are just innocent people being persecuted . If you do that means your stupid. 

 

Stupid is really hard to fix. 

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WAY TO GO...fan the flames so more, were is the statistic  on black on black shooting I bet it doesn't even come close to the police shootings.What were these people doing before the confrontations with the police? THAT has to do with it

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WAY TO GO...fan the flames so more, were is the statistic  on black on black shooting I bet it doesn't even come close to the police shootings.What were these people doing before the confrontations with the police? THAT has to do with it

 

 

That's exactly what this type of post is supposed to do.

 

It's sole purpose is to incite racism and hatred.

 

That is why they cherry pick only the data they need to present a totally biased, inflammatory, and derisive article.

 

It's what the PTB's have to do, keep making up reasons for one group of people to keep hating another.

 

Because if we were ever finally able to get rid of those shallow morons writing these pieces, or finally help those  posting this garbage to see the true agenda behind the deception, more people might just realize we are all just being played.

 

Then we all might stand up as one and get rid of the real oppressors.

 

But with trash articles like this, designed to maybe even incite a black person to go out and hurt a white person to get even for something that is a lie in the first place, then the racist haters that wrote this article will have done their job.

 

Did you know, there were over 100 attacks of blacks on innocent whites, with at least 5 white deaths, over the Gray "Hands Up" lie?

 

They would NEVER print any comparable, like the fact black on black crime accounts FOR 93% OF ALL BLACK DEATHS!!!!!!

 

Nope, is easier to stir up hatred. Hate is easy, everyone can do it, and you don't even need a reason.

 

Hate thy neighbor, the SHarpton motto...

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US senators call for mandatory reporting of police killings

 

Plan, announced one day after Guardian investigation, would force all US law enforcement agencies to report officer-involved killings to Department of Justice

 

Jon Swaine and Oliver Laughland New York

 

Tuesday 2 June 2015 16.00 BST

 

 

 

A plan to force all American law enforcement agencies to report killings by their officers was unveiled by US senators on Tuesday, a day after the Guardian published an investigation into the fatal use of force by police.

 

Senators Barbara Boxer of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey proposed legislation that would demand all states submit reports to the US Department of Justice that they said would bring “transparency and accountability to law enforcement agencies nationwide”.

 

“Too many members of the public and police officers are being killed, and we don’t have reliable statistics to track these tragic incidents,” Boxer said in a statement. “This bill will ensure that we know the full extent of the problem so we can save lives on all sides.”

 

Aides to the senators said their bill, the Police Reporting of Information, Data and Evidence (Pride) Act, would force mandatory reporting on the same data being collected by The Counted, a database published by the Guardian beginning this week.

 

The proposed legislation would see government officials collect information on the age, gender and race of anyone who was shot, injured, or killed in any way by law enforcement officer. The date, time, and precise location of the incident would also be collected.

 

The federal government does not currently collect a comprehensive record of people killed by police forces throughout the US. Instead, the FBI runs a voluntary program where law enforcement can chose to submit their count of “justifiable homicides” each year. This system has been continuously criticised.

 

The Guardian on Monday began publishing the most comprehensive map of police killings ever produced, based on precise street addresses of incidents.

 

The Boxer-Booker plan would also demand details of whether or not the person killed was armed with a weapon. The Guardian disclosed on Monday that 102 of 467 people who died at the hands of law enforcement so far this year were unarmed. Black people killed by police were twice as likely to have been unarmed as white people.

 

The Justice Department would also collect information on any violent actions against police officers. The plan would demand details of the type of force used against “the officer, the civilian, or both, including the types of weapons used”, according to the senators.

 

Booker said the first step needed to fix a problem was “understanding the extent of the problem you have”.

 

“Justice and accountability go hand in hand – but without reliable data it’s difficult to hold people accountable or create effective policies that change the status quo,” said Booker.

 

Booker said the proposal would ensure lawmakers had the information needed to make “good decisions and implement reform measures that are balanced, objective, and protect the lives of police officers and the public”.

 

 

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‘Without reliable data it’s difficult to hold people accountable or create effective policies that change the status quo,’ Senator Cory Booker, a sponsor of the legislation, said. Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA

 

 

Data charts on link

 

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jun/02/us-senators-call-for-mandatory-reporting-police-killings

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Fatal police shootings in 2015 approaching 400 nationwide

 

By Kimberly Kindy, and reported by Julie Tate, Jennifer Jenkins, Steven RichKeith L. Alexander and Wesley LoweryMay 30

 

 

 

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A rosary is draped over a portrait of 17-year-old Jessie Hernandez. The teen, who was killed by Denver police officers in January as she and friends allegedly tried to run them down in a stolen car, is among eight people younger than 18 who have been fatally shot by police this year. (David Zalubowski/Associated Press)

In an alley in Denver, police gunned down a 17-year-old girl joyriding in a stolen car. In the backwoods of North Carolina, police opened fire on a gun-wielding moonshiner. And in a high-rise apartment in Birmingham, Ala., police shot an elderly man after his son asked them to make sure he was okay. Douglas Harris, 77, answered the door with a gun.

The three are among at least 385 people shot and killed by police nationwide during the first five months of this year, more than two a day, according to a Washington Post analysis. That is more than twice the rate of fatal police shootings tallied by the federal government over the past decade, a count that officials concede is incomplete.

“These shootings are grossly under­reported,” said Jim Bueermann, a former police chief and president of the Washington-based Police Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving law enforcement. “We are never going to reduce the number of police shootings if we don’t begin to accurately track this information.”

A national debate is raging about police use of deadly force, especially against minorities. To understand why and how often these shootings occur, The Washington Post is compiling a database of every fatal shooting by police in 2015, as well as of every officer killed by gunfire in the line of duty. The Post looked exclusively at shootings, not killings by other means, such as stun guns and deaths in police custody.

Using interviews, police reports, local news accounts and other sources, The Post tracked more than a dozen details about each killing through Friday, including the victim’s race, whether the person was armed and the circumstances that led to the fatal encounter. The result is an unprecedented examination of these shootings, many of which began as minor incidents and suddenly escalated into violence.

Among The Post’s findings:

●About half the victims were white, half minority. But the demographics shifted sharply among the unarmed victims, two-thirds of whom were black or Hispanic. Overall, blacks were killed at three times the rate of whites or other minorities when adjusting by the population of the census tracts where the shootings occurred.

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●The vast majority of victims — more than 80 percent — were armed with potentially lethal objects, primarily guns, but also knives, machetes, revving vehicles and, in one case, a nail gun.

●Forty-nine people had no weapon, while the guns wielded by 13 others turned out to be toys. In all, 16 percent were either carrying a toy or were unarmed.

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●The dead ranged in age from 16 to 83. Eight were children younger than 18, including Jessie Hernandez, 17, who was shot three times by Denver police officers as she and a carload of friends allegedly tried to run them down.

The Post analysis also sheds light on the situations that most commonly gave rise to fatal shootings. About half of the time, police were responding to people seeking help with domestic disturbances and other complex social situations: A homeless person behaving erratically. A boyfriend threatening violence. A son trying to kill himself.

Ninety-two victims — nearly a quarter of those killed — were identified by police or family members as mentally ill.

In Miami Gardens, Fla., Catherine Daniels called 911 when she couldn’t persuade her son, Lavall Hall, a 25-year-old black man, to come in out of the cold early one morning in February. A diagnosed schizophrenic who stood 5-foot-4 and weighed barely 120 pounds, Hall was wearing boxer shorts and an undershirt and waving a broomstick when police arrived. They tried to stun him with a Taser gun and then shot him.

The other half of shootings involved non-domestic crimes, such as robberies, or the routine duties that occupy patrol officers, such as serving warrants.

Nicholas T. Thomas, a 23-year-old black man, was killed in March when police in Smyrna, Ga., tried to serve him with a warrant for failing to pay $170 in felony probation fees. Thomas fled the Goodyear tire shop where he worked as a mechanic, and police shot into his car.

Although race was a dividing line, those who died by police gunfire often had much in common. Most were poor and had a history of run-ins with law enforcement over mostly small-time crimes, sometimes because they were emotionally troubled.

Both things were true of Daniel Elrod, a 39-year-old white man. Elrod had been arrested at least 16 times over the past 15 years; he was taken into protective custody twice last year because Omaha police feared he might hurt himself.

On the day he died in February, Elrod robbed a Family Dollar store. Police said he ran when officers arrived, jumping on top of a BMW in the parking lot and yelling, “Shoot me, shoot me.” Elrod, who was unarmed, was shot three times as he made a “mid-air leap” to clear a barbed-wire fence, according to police records.

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A surveillance image of Daniel Elrod, after he robbed a Family Dollar store and shortly before the time of his death (Courtesy of Douglas County Attorney's Office)

Dozens of other people also died while fleeing from police, The Post analysis shows, including a significant proportion — 20 percent — of those who were unarmed. Running is such a provocative act that police experts say there is a name for the injury officers inflict on suspects afterward: a “foot tax.”

Police are authorized to use deadly force only when they fear for their lives or the lives of others. So far, just three of the 385 fatal shootings have resulted in an officer being charged with a crime — less than 1 percent.

The low rate mirrors the findings of a Post investigation in April that found that of thousands of fatal police shootings over the past decade, only 54 had produced criminal ­charges. Typically, those cases involved layers of damning evidence challenging the officer’s account. Of the cases resolved, most officers were cleared or acquitted.

In all three 2015 cases in which charges were filed, videos emerged showing the officers shooting a suspect during or after a foot chase:

●In South Carolina, police officer Michael Slager was charged with murder in the death of Walter Scott, a 50-year-old black man, who ran after a traffic stop. Slager’s attorney declined to comment.

●In Oklahoma, reserve deputy Robert Bates was charged with second-degree manslaughter 10 days after he killed Eric Harris, a 44-year-old black man. Bates’s attorney, Clark Brewster, characterized the shooting as a “legitimate accident,” noting that Bates mistakenly grabbed his gun instead of his Taser.

●And in Pennsylvania, officer Lisa Mearkle was charged with criminal homicide six weeks after she shot and killed David Kassick, a 59-year-old white man, who refused to pull over for a traffic stop. Her attorney did not return calls for comment.

In many other cases, police agencies have determined that the shootings were justified. But many law enforcement leaders are calling for greater scrutiny.

After nearly a year of protests against police brutality and with a White House task force report calling for reforms, a dozen current and former police chiefs and other criminal justice officials said police must begin to accept responsibility for the carnage. They argue that a large number of the killings examined by The Post could be blamed on poor policing.

“We have to get beyond what is legal and start focusing on what is preventable. Most are preventable,” said Ronald L. Davis, a former police chief who heads the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

Police “need to stop chasing down suspects, hopping fences and landing on top of someone with a gun,” Davis said. “When they do that, they have no choice but to shoot.”

As a start, criminologists say the federal government should systematically analyze police shootings. Currently, the FBI struggles to gather the most basic data. Reporting is voluntary, and since 2011, less than 3 percent of the nation’s 18,000 state and local police agencies have reported fatal shootings by their officers to the FBI. As a result, FBI records over the past decade show only about 400 police shootings a year — an average of 1.1 deaths per day.

According to The Post’s analysis, the daily death toll so far for 2015 is close to 2.6. At that pace, police will have shot and killed nearly 1,000 people by the end of the year.

“We have to understand the phenomena behind these fatal encounters,” Bueermann said. “There is a compelling social need for this, but a lack of political will to make it happen.”

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For the vast majority of departments, a fatal shooting is a rare event. Only 306 agencies have recorded one so far this year, and most had only one, the Post analysis shows.

However, 19 state and local departments were involved in at least three fatal shootings. Los Angeles police lead the nation with eight. The latest occurred May 5, when Brendon Glenn, a 29-year-old homeless black man, was shot after an altercation outside a Venice bar.

Oklahoma City police have killed four people, including an 83-year-old white man wielding a machete.

“We want to do the most we can to keep from taking someone’s life, even under the worst circumstances,” said Oklahoma City Police Chief William Citty. “There are just going to be some shootings that are unavoidable.”

In Bakersfield, Calif., all three of the department’s killings occurred in a span of 10 days in March. The most recent involved Adrian Hernandez, a 22-year-old Hispanic man accused of raping his roommate, dousing her with flammable liquid and setting fire to their home.

After a manhunt, police cornered Hernandez, who jumped out of his car holding a BB gun. Police opened fire, and some Bakersfield residents say they are glad the officers did.

“I’m relieved he can’t come back here, to be honest with you,” said Brian Haver, who lives next door to the house Hernandez torched. “If he came out holding a gun, what were they supposed to do?”

Although law enforcement officials say many shootings are preventable, that is not always true. In dozens of cases, officers rushed into volatile situations and saved lives. Examples of police heroism abound.

In Tempe, Ariz., police rescued a 25-year-old woman who had been stabbed and tied up and was screaming for help. Her boyfriend, Matthew Metz, a 26-year-old white man, also stabbed an officer before he was shot and killed, according to police records.

In San Antonio, a patrol officer heard gunshots and rushed to the parking lot of Dad’s Karaoke bar to find a man shooting into the crowd. Richard Castilleja, a 29-year-old Latino, had hit two men and was still unloading his weapon when he was shot and killed, according to police records.

And in Los Angeles County, a Hawthorne police officer working overtime was credited with saving the life of a 12-year-old boy after a frantic woman in a gray Mercedes pulled alongside the officer and said three men in a white Cadillac were following her and her son.

Seconds later, the Cadillac roared up. Robert Washington, a 37-year-old black man, jumped out and began shooting into the woman’s car.

“He had two revolvers and started shooting both of them with no words spoken. He shot and killed the mom, and then he started shooting at the kid,” said Eddie Aguirre, a Los Angeles County homicide detective investigating the case.

“The deputy got out of his patrol car and started shooting,” Aguirre said. “He saved the boy’s life.”

 

AP7676892435241428191410.jpg?uuid=Vvy4HN
Hummelstown, Pa., Police officer Lisa Mearkle was charged with criminal homicide. Investigators say Mearkle had incapacitated David Kassick with a stun gun. (Associated Press)
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Kassick was on the ground when Mearkle shot him twice in the back. She told investigators she thought he was reaching into his jacket for a gun. (Associated Press)
 

In about half the shootings, police were responding to non-domestic criminal situations, with robberies and traffic infractions ranking among the most common ­offenses. Nearly half of blacks and other minorities were killed under such circumstances. So were about a third of whites.

In North Carolina, a police officer searching for clues in a hit-and-run case approached a green and white mobile home owned by Lester Brown, a 58-year-old white man. On the front porch, the officer spotted an illegal liquor still. He called for backup, and drug agents soon arrived with a search warrant.

People shot to death by police and how they were allegedly armed

Officers knocked on the door and asked Brown to secure his dog. Instead, Brown dashed upstairs and grabbed a Soviet SKS rifle, according to police reports.

Neighbor Joe Guffey Jr. told a local TV reporter that he was sitting at home with his dogs when the shooting started: “Pow, pow, pow, pow.” Brown was hit seven times and pronounced dead at the scene.

While Brown allegedly stood his ground, many others involved in criminal activity chose to flee when confronted by police. Kassick, for example, attracted Mearkle’s attention because he had expired vehicle inspection stickers. On the day he died, Kassick was on felony probation for drunken driving and had drugs in his system, police and autopsy reports show.

After failing to pull over, Kassick drove to his sister’s house in Hummelstown, Pa., jumped out of the car and ran. Mearkle repeatedly struck Kassick with a stun gun and then shot him twice in the back while he was face-down in the snow.

Jimmy Ray Robinson, a.k.a. the “Honey Bun Bandit,” allegedly robbed five convenience stores in Central Texas, grabbing some of the sticky pastries along the way. Robinson, a 51-year-old black man, fled when he spotted Waco police officers staking out his home.

Robinson sped off in reverse in a green Ford Explorer. It got stuck in the mud, and four Waco officers opened fire.

“They think they can outrun the officers. They don’t realize how dangerous it is,” said Samuel Lee Reid, executive director of the Atlanta Citizen Review Board, which investigates police shootings and recently launched a “Don’t Run” campaign. “The panic sets in,” and “all they can think is that they don’t want to get caught and go back to jail.”

 

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Officers from the Alabama Bureau of Investigation take measurements and scour the scene for evidence after Shane Watkins, who had bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, was fatally shot by police in his mother’s driveway in Moulton, Ala. (Gary Cosby Jr./Decatur Daily)

The most troubling ­cases began with a cry for help.

About half the shootings occurred after family members, neighbors or strangers sought help from police because someone was suicidal, behaving erratically or threatening violence.

Take Shane Watkins, a 39-year-old white man, who died in his mother’s driveway in Moulton, Ala.

Watkins had never been violent, and family members were not afraid for their safety when they called Lawrence County sheriff’s deputies in March. But Watkins, who suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, was off his medication. Days earlier, he had declared himself the “god of the fifth element” and demanded whiskey and beer so he could “cleanse the earth with it,” said his sister, Yvonne Cote.

Then he started threatening to shoot himself and his dog, Slayer. His mother called Cote, who called 911. Cote got back on the phone with her mother, who watched Watkins walk onto the driveway holding a box cutter to his chest. A patrol car pulled up, and Cote heard her mother yell: “Don’t shoot! He doesn’t have a gun!”

“Then I heard the gunshots,” Cote said.

Lawrence County sheriff’s officials declined to comment and have refused to release documents related to the case.

“There are so many unanswered questions,” she said. “All he had was a box cutter. Wasn’t there some other way for them to handle this?”

Catherine Daniels called police for the same reason. “I wanted to get my son help,” she said. Instead, officers Peter Ehrlich and Eddo Trimino fired their stun guns after Hall hit them with the metal end of the broomstick, according to investigative documents.

“Please don’t hurt my child,” Daniels pleaded, in a scene captured by a camera mounted on the dash of one of the patrol cars.

“Get on the f---ing ground or you’re dead!” Trimino shouted. Then he fired five shots.

Police spokesman Mike Wright declined to comment on the case. Daniels said no one from the city has contacted her. “I haven’t received anything. No apology, nothing.”

But hours after her son was killed, Daniels said, officers investigating the shooting dropped off a six-pack of Coca-Cola.

“I regret calling them,” Daniels said. “They took my son’s life.”

 

Ted Mellnik, John Muyskens and Amy Brittain contributed to this report.

 

 

About this article

As part of an ongoing examination of police accountability, The Washington Post has attempted to track every fatal shooting by law enforcement nationwide since January, as well as the number of officers who were fatally shot in the line of duty.

The Post compiled the data using news reports, police records, open sources on the Internet and other original reporting. Several organizations, including Killed by Police and Fatal Encounters, have been collecting information about people who die during encounters with police.

The Post documented only those incidents in which a police officer, while on duty, shot and killed a civilian. Cases in which officers were shot to death were also tabulated.

To comprehensively examine the issue, a database was compiled with information about each incident, including the deceased’s age, race, gender, location and general circumstances. The Post also noted whether police reported that the person was armed and, if so, with what type of weapon.

The FBI and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention log fatal police shootings, but the data the two federal agencies gather is incomplete. The Post analyzed a decade of FBI and CDC records as part of the study.

To examine racial and economic patterns, The Post identified the location of every fatal shooting and compared it with the composition of the surrounding census tract.

The data, which will be collected through the end of the year, will be made public at a future date.

 

:cowboy2:

 

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