Tuesday, August 28, 2012

No national data on bystanders struck by police bullets

The Empire State Building shooting was the second time in two weeks that NYC police officers fired fusillades on the crowded streets of Midtown — 28 shots fired between the two episodes, reported the New York Times. 

The nanosecond speed at which a shooting plays out is followed by hours of analysis, second-guessing and study.

There is no national data on how often bystanders are struck by police bullets; Geoffrey P. Alpert, a criminologist at the University of South Carolina and an expert on the police use of force, told the Times that hitting innocent civilians “doesn’t happen very often, but it happens.”

In many police shootings, stray shots are almost inevitable; a study based on New York’s annual firearms discharge reports indicated that officers hit their targets 34 percent of the time.

“It’s a tense situation, people are scared and moving,” Professor Alpert told the Times. “It’s not like the movies, where you can shoot the gun out of his hand.”

The NYC Police Department does include such episodes in its firearms discharge report. In 2010, for example, the police hit three bystanders in a shootout with a gunman; the year before, one bystander was struck when an officer struggled with a suspect who was trying to take his gun, and the gun fired.

To read more:   http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/26/nyregion/bystanders-shooting-wounds-caused-by-the-police.html?_r=2&hp

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