Shootings: Still Rare
shootings receive intense media coverage but are still relatively rare.
The U.S. Department of Justice reports that less than one percent of
encounters with police involve threats or use of force. Blacks and Hispanics,
however, report violent or potentially violent encounters with police
at twice the rate of whites. Fifty-seven percent of those involved in
a police force situation reported that they had argued, disobeyed or
resisted or had been drinking or using drugs at the time.
The Justice Department reports that police kill about 400 people each
year. These deaths are referred to as "justifiable homicides," incidents
in which the suspect is killed to prevent death or injury to the officer
or another person. The percentage of white suspects killed by police
is rising, while the percentage of black suspects killed by police is
falling, the department reports. The Justice Department does not collect
statistics on killings by police in which the officer used excessive
force or may have committed a crime.
Since 1976, about 1,800 police officers were killed in line of duty.
From 1990 to 1999, 658 police officers were killed on duty by people
who were later charged with a crime. In 1999, 42 police officers were
murdered, the lowest rate in 35 years.
Killings: A Recent History
New York City
Nathaniel Gaines, 26, unarmed, shot to death on subway platform.
Officer later convicted of manslaughter.
1997, Pawtucket, Rhode Island
Kurt DeSilva, 34, unarmed, shot and killed by police officer after
a low speed chase. De Silva was suspected of driving a stolen car.
1997, Baltimore, Md.
James Quarels, armed with a knife, is shot and killed by police.
No charges filed.
1998, New York City
West African immigrant Amadou Diallo, 22, is shot 19 times and
killed by police in the doorway of his apartment building while reaching
for his wallet. Police, who were undercover, said they thought he was
reaching for a gun. Four white officers acquitted.
1998, Riverside, California
Tyisha Miller, 19, is shot 12 times and killed by police while she
was sitting in her car with a gun on her lap. Officers said she was
in a trance-like state of medical distress. Police broke the car window
and then fired when she appeared to reach for the gun. Officers acquitted.
1, 2000, New York City
Malcolm Ferguson, a suspected drug dealer, is slain by police four
blocks from Diallo's apartment.
March 2000, Louisville, Ky.
An unarmed 18-year-old is shot and killed by two officers while driving
a truck. Police said they thought he was trying to run them over. Police
chief later fired for awarding medals to the officers involved.
17, 2000. New York City
Patrick M. Dorismond, 26, is shot and killed in scuffle with undercover
police who had tried to buy drugs from him outside a nightclub. He is
the fourth unarmed black man killed by NYPD in 13 months.
12, 2000. Seattle, Washington
Police shoot and kill a 40-year old black man who had stolen orange
juice from a grocery store and fired two wild shots when confronted
by store employees.
7, 2001 Cincinnati, Ohio
Nineteen-year-old Timothy Thomas killed by white officer. Thomas
had 14 warrants for misdemeanors and traffic violations such as driving
without a license and driving without a seat belt. He was fleeing arrest
when he was shot. He is fourth black man killed by police in Cincinnati
since November. Fifteen blacks -- and no whites -- have died in confrontations
with Cincinnati police since 1995. The FBI is investigating.