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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