Though it has taken a backseat to the recent goings-on in and around the White House, police brutality has been a huge story over the past few years. Eric Garner. Sandra Bland. Philando Castile. These names made headlines and sparked emotional debates about the power of police and whether or not we live in a country that has moved beyond racism in the criminal justice system.
Often, families of victims have stories that contradict statements given by police or those in the news, and many people have tried to simplify the matter to Black Lives Matter vs. Blue Lives Matter. However, the issue of police brutality is complex, and it stems from many causes that have been shaped throughout our country’s history. As of right now, police brutality is still an unresolved issue in our country, and it is likely to remain that way for the foreseeable future.
Talking Points to Help You Better Understand the Issue
The only way to get closer to that resolution, though, is to talk about it, and that’s what we aim to do here. In past blog posts, we have briefly touched on the different types of police brutality. Below, you’ll find statistics that you can use as a jumping-off point when forming an opinion about the issue.
If you have been a victim of false arrest or excessive force, this information can help you while you are pursuing legal action or telling your story.
Number of people fatally shot by police in 2016: 963.
Police took the lives of almost 1,000 people last year. Before examining each case, the justifications given for each shooting, or the statistics broken down by race or gender, just let that statistic sink in. This number is only slightly down from the number of people killed by police in 2015 (991).
Fewer than 10% of people killed by police are unarmed. 5% of people killed by police were holding a toy weapon.
In cases like Philando Castile or Eric Garner, what makes their story impactful is the fact that they were unarmed, and police decided to use deadly force anyway. While these stories dominate the media, less than 10% of those who are killed by police are unarmed. The majority of people are holding guns or knives when the police use deadly force against them.
Also, just like the previous statistic, the number of unarmed people killed by police is decreasing. In 2015, roughly 9% of victims were unarmed. In 2016, that percentage dropped to 5%. Many credit this drop to training and re-training that police are undergoing in order to know when it is appropriate to draw or fire a gun that would potentially kill a citizen.
Obviously, any number higher than zero is too many. But, it is a great sign that the numbers are decreasing – and doing so fairly significantly.
Only 1/3 of people killed by police attempted to flee the scene.
Every case is different, and includes factors that provide different justifications for police to draw a weapon or not draw a weapon. For example, around 65% of people killed by police did not try to flee the scene. However, this statistic doesn’t tell us whether or not these individuals were cooperating with police. That makes a difference.
To learn more about your rights when in a confrontation with police, click here.
Unarmed black people are twice as likely to be killed by police as unarmed white people. While minorities make up less than 38% of the population, they make up 46.6% people killed by police, and 62.7% of unarmed people killed by police.
Yes, white people are killed by police officers, too.
When race enters into the police brutality discussion, these cases are often used as an argument. But, white people have the same rights to filing for compensation and taking action against unlawful police behavior. In order to look at the issue of police brutality, though, we must look at race as a factor.
Learn more about these statistics here.
Police misconduct cost New York City $348 million between 2006 and 2011… and this number isn’t going down anytime soon.
When people are unlawfully arrested or injured by police, they have the right to take the matter to court and ask for compensation. These cases may include wrongful death cases if officers’ unlawful actions turn fatal.
Between 2006 and 2011, 6,113 police misconduct and civil rights allegations were brought against the NYPD. These cases, including the $7 million settlement after the wrongful death of Sean Bell, ultimately cost New York City taxpayers $348 million. The number of these cases are not decreasing, so you can count on the city paying hundreds of millions more for years to come.
As these numbers show, and we mentioned above, it is possible to receive compensation for police brutality or misconduct. If you have been the victim of an officer’s unlawful actions and have suffered injury or damages, get on the phone with a New York personal injury lawyer immediately.