Near one third of people killed by US police since 2015, escaped while driving off or attempting to flee when an officer has fatally shot or used lethal force against them, the data shows.
in past seven years, police in America killed more than 2500 people who fled, and these numbers increased slightly in recent years, which is on average of rough one killing day of someone is running or trying to escape, according to Mapping Police Violence. research group that tracks the deadly force cases.
In many cases, skirmishes started with a traffic stop or there were no charges. of violence or serious crimes requiring the police to be contacted. Some were shot in in back while they fled and others were passengers in runaway cars.
Two recent cases erupted national outrage and protests. In Akron, Ohio on On June 27, officers shot dozens of of rounds in Jayland Walker, who was unarmed and fled when he was killed. As well as last week, officer in San Bernardino, California, drove out of the nameless car and immediately shot at Robert Adams as he ran in opposite direction.
Despite years of striving to hold officers accountable for killing civilians, prosecution remains extremely rare data shows. From 2500 people killed while fleeing since 2015, only 50 or 2% resulted in in criminal accusations. Majority of these allegations were either dismissed or led to in acquittals. Only nine officers were convicted, accounting for 0.35%. of cases.
Data, advocates and experts say, highlights how US law system allows officers kill with impunity and how reform efforts have not addressed fundamental weaknesses in police departments.
“In 2014 and 2015, at the beginning of this is national talk about racism in police, the idea was: “There are bad apples in police departments, and if we just blamed or fired those who were especially bad officers, we could save lives and stop police violence,” said Samuel Sinyangwe, scientist as well as policy analyst who founded Mapping Police Violence, but “this data shows that it is much more than any single officer.”
US police kill more people in days than many countries do in years, with about 1100 dead in year since 2013. The numbers are not changed since start of the Black Lives Matter movement, and they haven’t budged since George Floyd. murder inspired international protests in 2020.
The law has for years allowed the police kill civilians in a wide variety of circumstances. In 1985, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that officers can only use fatal force against an escaping person if they reasonably believed that person posed an imminent threat. But then the court said that the officer’s condition of mind and fear in the moment had to do with determining whether the shooting was justified. It means killing can be considered justified if the officer stated that he feared that the person was armed, or saw him point to his belt, even if he turned out the victim was unarmed, there was no threat.
How resultVery few police officers face charges. Adante Poynter, a civil rights attorney, said that was not the case. hard for officers to win when things boiled over down to what was going on in the mind of officer and victim in Moment: “The only person left tell story police officer”.
From 2022 to mid-July, officers killed 633 people. people including 202 who fled. In 2021, 368 victims fled (32% of all murders) in 2020, 380 people fled (33%); as well as in According to Mapping Police Violence, 325 people (30%) fled in 2019. Data based on media reports of people who tried escape when they were killed, and it is considered incomplete. About 10% to 20% of all cases each year, the circumstances of the shooting are unclear.
Black Americans suffer disproportionately, which makes up 32% of persons killed by police while fleeing, but only accounting for 13% of United States population. Black victims were even more overrepresented in cases related people escape on foot, doing up from 35% to 54% of these deaths.
“If a man runs away, no reason to chase them, hunt them down like animal and shoot and kill them,” said Paula McGowan, whose son Ronell Foster, was killed while fleeing in Vallejo, California in February 2018 Officer Ryan McMahon said he tried to stop Foster, 33year-old father of two because he rode a bicycle without light. Approximately at one minute of trying to stop him, the officer took up in a struggle and shot Foster in in back of in head. Officials later said that an unarmed man grabbed his flashlight and presented it.”in in a threatening way.”
“These officers are too excited up and ready to fire,” McGowan said. who for years advocated for the officer to be fired and prosecuted. Instead, the officer went on shoot another black man, Willie McCoy, one year after; he was one of six officers who fatally shot 20-year-old who slept in his car. The officer was fired in 2020 – no for killing McCoy or Foster, but since the department said he put in other officers in danger while shooting of McCoy.
city paid foster family $5.7 million in civil agreement in 2020, but pleaded not guilty. Lawyer for McMahon previously said the cop tried to “just talk to Mr. Foster” when he fled, adding that McMahon “feels reasonable under the circumstances.” Vallejo police did not respond to a request. for comment.
“These officers not only leave with it, they get to move on to a bigger and better job while we left broken and still trying pick up pieces,” said Miguel Minjares, whose niece, 16year- old Elena “Abby” Mondragon, murdered by police in Fremont, California.
In March 2017, undercover officers fired on car that fled, hitting Mondragon, who was a passenger and pregnant at the time. officers faced No criminal effects. One sergeant went on to work like a sniper for department, although it has since retired and another participated in operations continued to work as a training officer, records show.
“You shoot at moving car, which you shouldn’t have done, and you weren’t even close to hitting the person you were trying to target. Are you a sniper now? Minares said. “When I hear a sniper, I think of accuracy. It’s confusing. it shows right of officers and the police station, they just put people Where are they want them, no matter what they did. It’s confusing and heartbreaking.”
June, five years after killing, family won $21 million in civil process, but it is not clear if Frémont had changed Any of its policies or practices.
Fremont representative declined to comment on the Mondragon affair and did not answer questions about his policies.
Effort to prevent killings
On rare occasions when prosecutors make a file criminal accusations against police who killed by people fleeing, this process often takes years and usually ends with victory for the officer with judge or prosecutors themselves dismissing charges or acquittals by jurors.
AT one The Florida case, when an officer was investigating a shoplifting and fatally shot a fleeing man. in van, prosecutors filed charges, and a week later closed the case, stating that after review of evidence, “it became apparent that it would be incredibly difficult to secure a guilty verdict.” In a case in Hawaii where officers killed a 16-year-old year-old in a car judge last year denied all allegations and prevented the case from going to trial.
On nine cases of flight of officers found guilty or signed plea the case, conviction, and sentence were much lighter than typical murders. Georgia officer who killed an unarmed running man on leg was justified of manslaughter in 2019, for about found guilty of breaking an oath and giving one year in prison. San Diego sheriff’s deputy previously pleaded guilty year to voluntary manslaughter after he killed a fleeing man, but he escaped prison, instead receiving one year in jail. And the deputy of Tennessee, found guilty of negligent homicide after shooting a runaway car as well as killing passenger, 20-year- old woman, sentenced to community service.
FROM criminal system counting almost everything of these killings are legal, defenders argued that the cities should reduce unnecessary clashes with the police, which can turn deadly, for example, turning off stops for minor infractions and suspension of police from psychiatric calls. There is also attempts have intensified to prohibit officers from firing at moving cars.
California passed an important law in 2019 is meant to limit use of deadly force to cases where it was “necessary” to protect human life, and not just “reasonable”, and stating that an officer can only kill a fleeing person if they believe that this person will inevitably harm someone. new law also dictated it prosecutors should take into account the actions of the officer leading up to the killing that the police groups claimed were out of date according to previous standards.
But after its adoption, police departments throughout the state refused to obey and update their politics, said Adrienne Wong, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Southern California, which supported the bill. It’s only now starting to change years later of legal disputes.
“I think we’re going start see prosecutors consider all elements of in new law, but I honestly didn’t hold my breath based on on track record of prosecutors in state. We never thought that this law would become full solution.”