The Chicago Tribune has compiled a database of every police shooting in Chicago over the last six years, offering insight into police use of deadly force in the city.
At the rate the shootings occurred, on average police shot suspects every 5 days.
The Tribune’s analysis examined reports involving police shootings from 2010 through 2015. It found that in the six-year span police were involved in a total of 435 shooting incidents where 170 people were wounded and 92 were killed.
High-profile incidents like the 2014 shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald were just the beginning of the Tribune’s analysis.
Activists have referred to the death of McDonald, a video of which showed Chicago police shooting him 16 times, as one of the worst instances of police brutality they had ever seen in Chicago.
Since then, a number of similar incidents involving police in Chicago and other major US cities have prompted a national conversation about police use of lethal force.
Here are some of the findings in the Tribune’s investigation:
- Police fired more than 2,623 bullets over the course of 435 shootings. In a little more than half of those incidents, police hit at least one person. In the other half, officers missed.
- Approximately 4 out of every 5 people shot by police were African-American males.
- Approximately half of the officers involved in the shootings were African-American or Hispanic.
- The officers who discharged their weapons had, on average, nearly 10 years of experience.
- 520 officers fired their weapons during the 6 year period. 60 of those officers did so in more than incident.
In order to obtain the data in the report, the Tribune fought with the police department for seven months over their failure to fufill a Freedom of Information Act request. The department relented when the Tribune threatened to sue. had to seek legal action despite the fact that information were public records.
Data collected during the analysis showed 80 per cent of the people shot by the Chicago Police Department during the six-year period were African American, 14 per cent were Hispanic and less than 6 per cent were white, the Tribune found.
Officers who shot suspects often cited that they feared for their life. In about 60 per cent of the shootings officers said suspects pointed weapons at them or made suspicious movements to justify the shootings, the report said.
“As a police officer, you don’t wait for the shot to come in your direction,” Dean Angelo Sr., president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, told the Tribune. “You might not get a chance to return fire.”
While the number of police shootings declined from more than 100 in 2011 to 44 in 2015, data indicated that Chicago’s police shootings still outnumbered cities like Los Angeles, New York, Houston, and Philadelphia.
According to the report, officer-involved shootings primarily occurred in areas on the South and West sides of Chicago where crime is prevalent.
Chicago police have denied allegations of unfairly targeting minorities and made correlations to shootings in high-crime areas that have predominately African-American populations.
“When you look at the map, 80 per cent of narcotics arrests, gun arrests and gang arrests happen in these poor areas,” Angelo said.
“Where you’ve got dope, you’ve got guns. It’s not about ethnicity — it’s about criminal involvement.”
Although no national database of police shootings exists, The Washington Post has compiled its own that shows a total of 990 people have been killed by police in the US this year.
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