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Police Shootings

Officers and police departments undoubtedly serve an important and necessary role in our society by keeping us safe. Because of that, Americans should certainly thank the police officers who do their jobs safely and correctly. Unfortunately, there are police officers in the world who abuse their power. Police who abuse their power have made top headlines in the last ten years because they have wrongfully killed hundreds of Americans. If someone you love was wrongfully shot by police, you certainly need experienced police brutality lawyers on your side. Curcio Law wants to ensure that there are more good cops in our country than bad cops, so that we can all feel safe and at ease. Call us today at 312-321-1111 for a free consultation.

What is Police Brutality?

Basically, police brutality happens when a police officer becomes violent through excess force. There are certainly times when police officers have to be firm with people. However, it’s illegal for officers to use more force than what’s absolutely necessary to carry out the lawful tasks of their jobs. The motive for the officer’s effort to arrest the person, the person’s response, and the circumstances of the arrest will all play a role in determining whether or not the officer used too much force.

Types of Police Brutality

There are many ways that police can be violent towards citizens. Some of the most common examples of police violence include:
  • Beatings
  • Takedowns
  • Tazing someone without a valid reason
  • Using a chokehold maneuver on someone
  • Using a stun gun
All of this police violence can obviously result in major injury or death. Generally, officers should reserve lethal force as a last resort.

Police Brutality vs. Misconduct

Police brutality involves fatal force, while police misconduct involves other types of abuse that aren’t always physically violent. Other forms of police misconduct can include:
  • Unlawful arrest
  • Falsification of evidence
  • Sexual assault
  • False imprisonment
  • Racial profiling
  • Unwanted surveillance
  • Perjury
  • Witness tampering
  • Failure to intervene

How Many Police Shootings Happen Every Year?

It’s impossible to know the exact number of police shootings every year, because many departments don’t always report police violence. In fact, the FBI under-reported fatal officer shootings by more than half, according to a Washington Post article. However, the Washington Post has been tracking the number of nationwide officer shootings since 2015 through the news, social media, and police reports. Through those sources, the Washington Post’s comprehensive data shows that there have been approximately 1,000 officer shootings every year since 2015. 

How Many White Americans are Killed by Police?

Statistically, more white people are fatally shot by police every year than black people. 2,969 white people have been fatally shot by law enforcement since 2015. This means that police shoot approximately 15 white people per million.

How Many Black Americans are Killed by Police?

Since 2015, 1,557 black people have been fatally shot by law enforcement. This means that police shoot approximately 37 black people per million. Although black Americans make up less than 13% of the population in the United States, police kill them at double the rate of white Americans.

How Likely is it For People Enduring a Mental Health Crisis to be Shot by Police?

According to a study released by the Treatment Advocacy Center, people enduring a mental health crisis are 16 times more likely to die during a police encounter compared to mentally well people. Additionally, the study finds that severely mentally ill people are involved in at least one out of every four fatal police shootings, and as many as half of all fatal police shootings.

What City Has the Most Police Shootings?

St. Louis, MO has had the most police killings since 2013 according to data from Mapping Police Violence. Coming in second place is Oklahoma City, OK.

Chicago Deaths by Police

Fatal police violence is also a common occurrence in Chicago, IL because of its concentrated population. According to data from Mapping Police Violence, law enforcement at the Chicago Police Department are responsible for 82 deaths since 2013. In Illinois as a whole, the Washington Post claims that there have been 134 shootings since 2015 which boils down to 10 shootings per million people.
In 435 shootings between 2010 and 2015, Chicago police officers fired at least 2,623 bullets. Officers shot at least one person in 235 of these shootings and missed their targets in 200 other shootings according to data from the Chicago Tribune. Additionally, the overwhelming majority of people shot by Chicago police between 2010 and 2015 were black males. In fact, approximately four out of five shooting victims were black males according to Chicago Tribune data.
police brutality lawyers

Death of Laquan McDonald in Chicago

Laquan McDonald is one of the most well-known deaths by police in Chicago. Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke killed 17-year-old McDonald, a young black man, on October 20, 2014. At first, Van Dyke and the Chicago Police Department claimed that McDonald was behaving dangerously while walking down the street. More specifically, police claimed that McDonald was carrying a knife and refused to put it down. Based on this information, the court judged that Van Dyke used reasonable force when he shot McDonald.
A year later, the court requested the dash camera footage of the night McDonald died. The footage contradicted Van Dyke’s previous report because it showed McDonald walking down the street without a knife. When he was walking away from police, he was fatally shot 16 times.
The court initially charged and jailed Van Dyke for first degree murder. But later on October 5, 2018, the court charged Van Dyke with second degree murder and aggravated battery with a gun.

Aftermath of Laquan McDonald’s Death

Many protests followed the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Justice launched an investigation into McDonald’s death and the Chicago Police Department. In a report published in January 2017, the Department of Justice claimed that Chicago officers generally use excessive violence, particularly towards minorities. The DOJ also claimed that Chicago officers are poorly trained and monitored.

What is Reasonable Force?

Reasonable force is also known as legal force. Basically, reasonable force is the amount of force required to defend yourself or your property. You may use reasonable force during some kind of attack where you or someone else’s life is on the line. Generally, police use reasonable force for similar reasons.

How Much Force Should a Police Officer Use When Arresting Someone?

A police officer is legally allowed to use reasonable force when arresting someone. But it’s difficult to determine what’s reasonable force when suspects become resistant and violent. Additionally, the definition of reasonable force differs among many departments and is likely to change due to the nationwide controversy surrounding police violence. Courts presently determine reasonable force on a case-by-case basis through these questions:
  • How severe was the crime?
  • Did the suspect pose a threat to officers?
  • Was the suspect resisting or trying to run away?
At the end of the day, police use as much force as they feel the arrest situation warrants. Their main goal is to protect themselves and others when it comes to taking someone into police custody.

When Can a Police Officer Shoot Someone?

As previously stated, police officers should use fatal force as a last resort. This statement then begs the question: when is it okay for an officer to shoot someone or use aggressive policing? There are three situations where police can use deadly force:
  • The officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the suspect is a substantial physical threat to himself or others.
  • A suspect threatened the police with a weapon.
  • The police have reasonable grounds to believe that the offender committed a felony involving serious bodily harm.
It’s important to note that an officer must provide a clear warning towards a violent or resistant suspect before using aggressive policing. That way, a suspect can choose to cooperate before potentially getting hurt.

Potential Accusations Towards a Police Department For Fatal Shootings

If someone you love endured a fatal shooting by a police officer, you could sue the officer, the police department, or both. Police brutality lawyers at Curcio Law will help you determine exactly who is liable depending on the circumstances surrounding the death. If you choose to sue the police department, your lawyer could use one or more of these accusations:
  • The department hired a police officer who was clearly unfit for their job. For example, maybe the police officer had a history of violence at a different department.
  • A police officer didn’t receive proper training before and during their job. Not only is training necessary before becoming an officer, but it’s necessary throughout employment.
  • The department failed to appropriately monitor one officer with a record of violence in recent years.
  • The department continued to employ a police officer despite their record of violence. This is also called negligent retention of an officer.

Call Curcio Law Today

Experienced police brutality lawyers at Curcio Law will fight tirelessly to ensure that your loved one receives the justice they deserve. We’ll determine which rights were violated while building a solid defense so that you can receive the best possible outcome in your police shooting case. Call us today at 312-321-1111 for more information.