More than 1,000 Civilians Were Killed by Police Officers in 2015
Deaths of civilians by police officers remained a hot topic this year when cases made headlines locally and nationally.
A series of demonstrations and, in some cases, riots, took place in American cities since Aug. 2014 when Michael Brown, a young, unarmed black man was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Since Ferguson we have seen the high profile deaths of Eric Garner in New York and Freddie Gray in Baltimore. The death of Gray in April 2015 was linked to riots in Baltimore.
In Norfolk, the city reached a settlement with a man who was shot dead by police at a Wells Fargo bank in Ghent. I represented the family of the deceased.
Although these cases have made national and local news headlines, the true extent of deaths of civilians by police officers in the United States is much higher. A database called “the Counted” by the Guardian newspaper listed more than 1,000 deaths by police in 2015.
The Guardian’s data supported the claim by activists like the members of the Black Lives Matter movement that police kill blacks at a rate disproportionate to their total percentage of the population. The Guardian found police killed almost five black people per every million black residents of the U.S., compared with about 2 per million for both white and Hispanic victims.
Los Angeles saw the highest numbers of people killed by police. White victims were the most prevalent and more than three-quarters of those who lost their lives were male.
Guns caused the deaths of the majority of victims in the study followed by Tasers, which led to the deaths of 39 people by September, followed by being struck by police vehicles (26). As of the beginning of September, 161 of the victims were completely unarmed at the time of their death.
I have to wonder how many of these deaths were a justifiable use of force. An article in MintPress news stated that while police advocates claim the frequent use of force is necessary to protect police officers from a highly dangerous job, the statistics do not support the claim well. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund reported that 25 police officers lost their lives due to gunfire so far in 2015. Two of these deaths were due to the officers accidentally discharging their own firearms.
If you have lost a loved one due to the actions of a police officer, you may have grounds to file a wrongful death suit against a city. Contact me at 757.455.0077 for a free and confidential consultation.