According to the Washington Post, more than 2,000 people have been killed by police officers since the beginning of 2015. The following is a synopsis of some of the highest profile cases in which Americans have died at the hands of law enforcement dating back to 2014.
Justine Ruszczyk Damond: On July 15, 2017, 40-year-old, Australian-born bride-to-be Justine Damond was shot once in the abdomen by a Minneapolis police officer. Damond had called police when she thought she heard a sexual assault or rape occurring next door. A week later, Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau announced her resignation.
On Sept. 20, 2016, police in Charlotte, North Carolina fatally shot 43-year-old Keith LaMont Scott while carrying out an unrelated search warrant. Officers say they saw Scott exit the car with a gun, and refused to comply with their commands to drop the weapon. Scott's family claims he had suffered brain damage in the past and had trouble communicating. The shooting sparked violent protests in the Charlotte area. In Nov. 2016, prosecutors declined to charge the officer who shot Scott.
Terence Crutcher was shot and killed in Tulsa, Oklahoma by Officer Betty Shelby on Sept. 16, 2016. Police were called to the scene when Crutcher's vehicile was found abandoned and running in the middle of the road. After refusing to show his hands and failing to follow other police orders, Shelby felt threatend and shot Crutcher. PCP was recovered at the scene, and records show Crutcher had a history of using the drug. On May 17, 2017, a jury acquitted Betty Shelby of first-degree manslaughter.
Sylville Smith of Milwaukee, Wisconsin was shot and killed after he fled a traffic stop on August 13, 2016. He was armed with a loaded handgun and was shot twice by Milwaukee Police officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown. Smith's death sparked three nights of unrest and riots throughout Milwaukee. In June 2017, Heaggan-Brown was acquitted of first-degree reckless homicide relating to Smith's death.
On July 6, 2016, Philando Castile was shot and killed during a traffic stop just outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Before being shot, Castile informed Officer Jeronimo Yanez that he was armed with a gun. Seconds later, Yanez shot Castile when he saw him reaching toward his pocket. Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, streamed the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook live while Reynolds' daughter sat in the back seat. In June 2017, a jury acquitted Yanez of second-degree manslaughter and dangerous discharge of a firearm. Yanez was then fired by the St. Anthony Police Department.
Alton Sterling, 37, was shot and killed by police in Baton Rogue, Louisiana on July 5, 2016 while selling CDs on a street corner. A 911 caller reported to police that Sterling waved his gun and threatened him. Upon arriving on the scene, Sterling was tased and wrestled to the ground. When police officers noticed Sterling was carrying a gun, Sterling was told not to move and then shot. In May 2017, the Department of Justice said it would not charge the officers, though the state of Louisiana is still investigaitng.
Ray Tensing, left, and Sam DuBose.
Sandra Bland was arrested for assaulting a police officer after a heated traffic stop on July 10, 2015 in Waller, Texas. Three days later on July 13, Bland was found hanging in her jail cell. An investigation by the state of Texas and the FBI determined that police did not follow specific policies relating to inmate checks and mental health training. In addition, Bland's arresting officer was placed on administrative leave for failing to proper traffic stop procedures relating to dash cam footage. A grand jury did not charge the county sheriff or jail staff in Bland's death.
After being placed under arrested for possessing an illegal switchblade on April 12, 2015, Gray suffered a spinal cord injury while being transported in a police vehicle. He was moved to a hospital and died of a spinal cord injury one week later on April 19, 2015. Gray's death sparked riots and unrest in Baltimore in the early summer months of 2015. Six seperate officers will be tried for Gray's death. Thus far, two have been found not guilty and the trial for a third officer was thrown out due to a hung jury.
On April 4, 2015, Walter Scott of Norht Charleston, South Carolina was shot and killed by Officer Michael Slager. Cell phone video captured at the scene showed Slager firing at Scott as Scott ran away, which was not included in Slager's police report. Slager was indicted on murder charges in June 2015, and the subsequent trial was thrown out due to a hung jury. Slager eventually plead guilty to federal charges of civil rights violations in May 2017 and is awaiting sentencing. (Wikimedia Commons)
On Nov. 22, 2014, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed while playing with a toy gun in a public park in Cleveland, Ohio. The 911 caller who reported seeing Rice with the toy told dispatcher that Rice was probably a minor and his gun was probably fake, but that information was never relayed to officers. A grand jury declined to bring charges against the officers. The 911 dispatcher received an eight-day suspension.
John Crawford III
Crawford was shot and killed by police at a Beavercreek, Ohio Walmart on August 5, 2014 while playing with an unpackaged toy BB gun. After other shoppers saw Crawford messing around with the gun and pretending to shoot people, the police were called. Crawford was shot shortly after police arrived. A grand jury declined to charge the officers responsible for Crawford's death (Wikimedia Commons).
The New York City man died on July 17, 2014 shortly after being placed under arrest for unlawfully selling cigarettes by the New York Police Department. During a scuffle with police, Garner can be heard on video yelling, "I can't breathe" multiple times. Officer Daniel Pantaleo, the policeman who was attempting to arrest Garner, was cleared of wrongdoing by a grand jury in December 2014.
The Ferguson, Missouri teenager was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Darren Wilson. Brown's death sparked riots in the community and led to a Department of Jusrice investigation into the Ferguson Police Department which found widespread problems with racism within the department. A grand jury ultimately decided not to bring charges against Wilson.