Ehab Zahriyeh / Al Jazeera America & The Daily Beast – 2014-11-27 00:12:45
In Week before Ferguson Verdict,
12 Killed by Law Enforcement across US
Ehab Zahriyeh / Al Jazeera America
(November 26, 2014) — While much of the nation’s attention is focused on the aftermath of a grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown, the United States has witnessed police-involved violence resulting in the shooting deaths of at least 12 people across the country in just the last week.
The Cleveland police shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir E. Rice on Nov. 23 sparked outrage and national attention after it appeared that the child was shot after brandishing a BB gun. While in New York City, the accidental shooting death of Akai Gurley, 28, by an NYPD officer patrolling a stairwell in a Brooklyn public housing unit has also provoked public indignation.
Other police-involved shooting deaths from Monday, Nov. 17 to Sunday, Nov. 23 occurred in California, Arizona, Florida, New Jersey and Utah. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, more people have died in Utah due to police shootings in the last five years than violent deaths at the hands of gang members and drug dealers.
The FBI does not release annual data on how many Americans are killed by law enforcement officers — information that activists who mobilized after the Ferguson shooting in August have demanded of the Obama administration.
Although Al Jazeera identified 12 incidents of deadly police force over the span of seven days, the number of actual incidents may be higher. Killed By Police, a Facebook page that posts links to news reports of homicides by law enforcement, found 23 incidents during the same timeframe.
But even that number seems low, says D. Brian Burghart, editor of Reno News & Review, who founded Fatal Encounters, a project compiling comprehensive and searchable national data of people killed by law enforcement officials.
The Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), official national crime data complied annually by the FBI, indicates that there were 461 total deaths at the hands of law enforcement in 2013, the most recently published year. But Burghart told Al Jazeera that after scanning local government agencies and media reports the number of police-related fatalities was “closer to about 1,400 a year,” with at least 9,000 from 2000 to 2014.
Over 18,000 law enforcement agencies — including city, county, state and federal law enforcement departments — voluntarily participate in sharing crime data with the FBI. However, only 750 of those agencies contribute to UCR’s data on law enforcement-related incidents, leaving a gap in the fatalities reported by UCR versus the actual number of incidents.
Samuel Walker, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Nebraska and author of In Defense of American Liberties, told Al Jazeera that the problem of reporting police-cause fatalities remains “the failure of the FBI and the Justice Department to insist that all agencies report this data.”
“Officers assaulted and killed by citizens — well they’re very eager to collect and report that data, but they don’t report the other side of the equation,” said Walker.
Since Michael Brown’s Death,
Cops Have Killed 14 Teens
The Daily Beast
(November 25, 2014) — Since Ferguson, police have killed more than a dozen teenagers, half of them black. Some did nothing more than carry a BB gun.
Michael Brown’s death on August 9 was a nationwide wake-up call to the death-by-cop of young minority men at the hands of law enforcement. According to data stretching from 1999 to 2011, African Americans have comprised 26 percent of all police-shooting victims. Overall, young African Americans are killed by cops 4.5 times more often than people of other races and ages.
Since Brown’s death, at least 14 other teenagers — at least six of them African-American — have been killed by law enforcement in a variety of circumstances.
Tamir Rice wasn’t yet a teenager when he was killed on November 22 in a Cleveland, Ohio park. The 12-year-old boy was shot by a police officer after brandishing what turned out to be a BB gun.
A call made to police beforehand described Rice as “a guy with a pistol” on a swing set, but said it was “probably fake.” When officers arrived at the scene, they say Rice reached for his toy, though did not point it at them, prompting a first-year policeman to fire two shots at Rice from a short distance.
On Monday night, as the Brown indictment verdict was announced, a local councilor summed these up without getting tangled in blame and legalities:
“Perhaps, after our analysis, we learn that the police officer really did fear for his life and did everything right under the circumstances,” City Councilman Jeffrey Johnson said at a meeting. “But there is something fundamentally broken in our system when a young man can have a legal BB gun, and by the end of that day be killed by a Cleveland police officer.”
On the evening of September 21, police were called to check on reports of trespassers with weapons going into an abandoned home in Terrebonne, Louisiana. Cameron Tillman, a 14-year-old boy was shot dead on the scene by a sheriff’s deputy.
His brother, who was there, said he was shot opening the door and was unarmed, but the police said he was armed and that a gun was recovered near his body. It was later reported that the weapon was a BB gun that appeared to be a .45-caliber pistol. The cop was not named, but was identified as an African-American veteran of the division with no prior infractions.
VonDerrit Myers Jr.
VonDerrit Myers Jr. was shot in the head in early October not far from where Michael Brown died two months earlier. The 18-year-old was shot six or seven times in the Shaw neighborhood of St. Louis after an off-duty police officer fired at him 17 times.
Police say Myers charged at the policeman, they wrestled, and then he shot at least three bullets before his gun jammed. Myers had been out on bail in a gun case, but his family claimed he was unarmed and holding only a sandwich in his hand.
That night, a crowd of 300 gathered at the scene, and violence broke out: gunshots echoed and police vehicles were damaged. The officer who shot Myers was identified as Jason Flanery, a 32-year-old white patrolman.
After a tire-puncturing spree in late October, 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was shot dead by a police officer in Chicago. Officers reported to a call about someone breaking into cars in the Archer Heights neighborhood. The teen refused to drop his knife, according to officers, fixed them with “a 100-yard stare,” and walked toward them. That’s when a cop fired at McDonald, killing him.
Few details have been revealed about the shooting of an 18-year-old girl in Long Beach, California last week. Officers were responding to a report of a missing juvenile girl, and found her in the house of Carey Smith-Viramontes. According to police, Smith-Viramontes was armed with a knife and was shot dead by an officer on the scene.
An 18-year-old was killed by police officers after opening fire on a cop with two guns in Kansas City in late October. Jeffrey Holden had reportedly been shooting at houses and passersby before the authorities arrived at the scene. he was listed as a missing person and had two outstanding warrants.
Two armed robbers were killed after holding up a Dollar General Store in Columbus, Ohio in October. Eighteen-year-old Qusean Whitten had jumped from the car he was using to flee the scene and started running when police opened fire.
In early October, 19-year-old Miguel Benton managed to steal an officer’s gun and shoot him twice. Two cops were transporting Benton and another inmate to jail on drug and robbery charges in Georgia when the incident occurred. Another officer shot and killed Benton.
Eighteen-year-old Dillon McGee of Jackson, Tennessee, died after being shot by police officers who claim he was attempting to run them over in a car. On September 26, officers were targeted after approaching a car, driven by McGee, and fired at the driver. McGee was the father of a one-month-old son.
A man welding a baseball bat and a kitchen knife lunged at police officers in his home in Georgia, and was fatally shot in late September. According to the sheriff, 18-year-old Levi Weaver begged the officer to shoot him, and then leapt at him. The officer shot Weaver twice.
A 19-year-old woman was killed in September after an undercover police watched a drug deal go down in Oklahoma City. One of the suspects got in a car driven by Karen Cifuentes and took off, apparently hitting one of the officers who fired then opened fire and killed her.
In August, an 18-year-old was shot and killed by a Dallas police officer after a car crash in a parking lot near a Walmart store. According to police, Sergio Ramos had just robbed a killed an associate when he was confronted by an off-duty cop, reached for the gun in his shorts, and was shot multiple times.
Some 500 anti-police protesters took to Chicago’s streets after a 19-year-old man’s death at the hands of police. On August 24, Roshad McIntosh was being questioned by cops when he began running. Police say he pulled a gun on them, but his family claimed that McIntosh was kneeling on the ground with his hands in the air. Nearly a month later, his mother brought another protest to city hall, demanding answers in her son’s killing.
A mentally ill woman brandishing a power drill was shot dead by an officer after she called 911 and told San Jose dispatchers she had an Uzi. Diana Showman, 19, had come out of her house, ignored demands to put down the weapon, and was shot once. Showman’s parents criticized the officer’s response, saying that the police needed to be better equip to handle mental health issues.
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