According to The New York Times, law enforcement officers kill about 1,000 people a year across the United States. Since the beginning of 2005, 121 officers have been arrested on charges of murder or manslaughter in on-duty killings, according to data compiled by Philip M. Stinson, a criminal justice professor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Of the 95 officers whose cases have concluded, 44 were convicted, but often of a lesser charge, he said.
Convictions include cases like the killing of Laquan McDonald in Chicago, for which Jason Van Dyke was sentenced to nearly seven years in prison, and the killing of Justine Damond in Minneapolis, for which Mohamed Noor was sentenced to 12.5 years.
Many officers who avoided criminal convictions have been fired, like three of the other officers in the McDonald case, and Daniel Pantaleo, who used a chokehold on Eric Garner on Staten Island.
More recently, officers involved in the deaths of Mr. Floyd in Minneapolis and Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta have been swiftly indicted on murder charges. Mr. Brooks’s case in particular appears to reflect changing standards; because he grabbed and fired an officer’s Taser before he was killed, several experts said they doubted charges would have been brought had the death occurred before the wave of protests and police scrutiny that followed Mr. Floyd’s death.
But two cases do not prove that prosecutors have grown more willing — or have yielded to increased pressure — to hold officers criminally accountable. Professor Stinson said any such uptick is so far statistically insignificant. And several equally high-profile investigations of police killings have resulted in no indictment.
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