Monday, October 24, 2016

Police shootings: The body count

Deja (center) and Cassandra Grant (right) lead protesters demanding justice for Mario Woods, the Bayview man shot and killed by police nearly two months ago, on a march down Market Street to the site of Super Bowl City in San Francisco, Calif. on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016. Photo: Paul Chinn, The Chronicle
Photo: Paul Chinn, the Chronicle

From today's SF Chronicle:

...From 2006 to 2015, California’s count of officer-involved shootings left out at least 439 fatalities, meaning there were at least 1,480 in total, according to the new data.

In the 10-year span, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department didn’t report at least 34 fatal shootings, Fresno police didn’t report at least 24, and Los Angeles police didn’t report at least 21, the study found.

“Nobody has any idea how many police shootings there are,” said Robert Weisberg, a Stanford Law School professor and co-director of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center. “Any scrutiny is good, and if this causes more scrutiny, that’s good, and if it causes any embarrassment, that’s fine.”

The Texas State study said San Francisco police did not report any of their six fatal shootings to the state last year, including the December killing of Mario Woods, which sparked a federal review of the city’s force.

The researchers found two additional cases, in 2008 and 2010, in which a San Francisco police killing did not end up being recorded by the state. There was no indication, they said, that the discrepancies were purposeful...The study reveals the degree to which California is part of an undercounting problem so widespread that two news organizations — the Washington Post and Guardian US — opted to perform their own counts of police killings last year, after figures released by the FBI were discredited as incomplete.

The results marked the first time the American public was given a reasonably full — though still imperfect — picture of officer-involved killings. The Post counted 991 fatal police shootings in the U.S. in 2015 and 189 in California, a number similar to the one calculated by Texas State University.

Scrutiny of such statistics was part of the aftermath of the Aug. 9, 2014, death of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black man who was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo.

Since then, a number of video-recorded police killings — including that of [Mario]Woods in San Francisco — have ignited calls for reforms to reduce the bloodshed...

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