Three a day dying at hands of US police

January 2, 2016 8:03 am

Results of newspapers’ study come as anger grows over rising number of black citizens being killed.

  There have been regular street protests in Chicago and other cities over the shooting of black men. Photo / AP

Two independent studies have for the first time laid bare how many
civilians died at the hands of police over the course of a
year: about three a day.
The tallies, carried out by the
Washington Post and the Guardian newspapers, are likely to fuel
simmering outrage in many communities that feel police officers are
too quick to use deadly force.
America has in recent years been
shaken by a series of fatal police shootings that have prompted calls
for reforms of law enforcement tactics.
Some of the
highest-profile incidents have involved white officers killing unarmed
black men or youths, with many of the deaths caught on video camera.
shootings have galvanised the Black Lives Matter national movement,
which has helped raise awareness around the disproportionate rate at
which unarmed black men are killed by police.

Because the Federal Bureau of Investigation only tallies
“justifiable homicides” of felons by police officers, and not the
overall number killed, the US edition of the Guardian and the Post set
about keeping their own counts.
The FBI’s official tally of justifiable homicides in 2014 was 444 (2015 is not yet available.)
The agency’s national tally is also incomplete because reporting is voluntary, and not all police departments submit data.
Attorney-General Loretta Lynch has announced plans to improve data
collecting for use-of-force incidents involving police, calling it
“vital for transparency and accountability”.
According to The
Counted, at the Guardian’s site, 1130 people had as of Thursday been
killed by police last year, – more than three a day, on average.
The Post, which counted only people killed by gunshot, put the number at 979.
The Post found most of those were either armed, had mental troubles, or were fleeing officers who had told them to stop.
the bulk of cases where officers killed an armed suspect, the
individual was white, the newspaper notes, adding that 36 officers were
shot and killed in 2015.
However, when it comes to unarmed suspects, black men are disproportionately affected.
Post found that though black men make up only 6 per cent of the US
population, they made up 40 per cent of the cases in which police killed
an unarmed man last year.
Yet another high-profile case unfolded
last weekend in Chicago, when police fatally shot Bettie Jones, 55, a
mother of five, and Quintonio LeGrier, a 19-year-old engineering
Both died after police came to a private residence in response to a domestic-violence call.
The city’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, said more police should be armed with Taser stun guns and given additional training.
a difference between whether someone can use a gun and when they should
use a gun,” Emanuel said, after cutting short his holiday and returning
to the city.
The shootings come with Chicago’s police already
under federal investigation over a video that shows a white police
officer, Jason Van Dyke, shooting a black teen 16 times, with most of
the gunshots fired as the boy was lying motionless on the ground.
Van Dyke has pleaded not guilty to murder.
shooting of 17-year old Laquan McDonald, which took place in 2014, has
triggered a federal civil-rights probe into the police and calls in some
corners for the resignation of Emanuel – a former top White House aide
to President Barack Obama.
In the rare cases where police are
charged with wrongdoing in shootings, they are often cleared, as they
only need to show they felt their lives were in danger at the time of
the incident.
Because so many people in America have guns, officers are trained to assume every suspect could be armed.
a recent study in the Public Library of Science, researchers from
Harvard University urged better national counting of police killings.
related deaths, of both persons killed by law-enforcement agents and
also law-enforcement agents killed in the line of duty, are a
public-health concern,” the study notes.

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