Since 2005, just 11 cops have have been convicted of fatally shooting somebody while on duty even though thousands of people have died from police-involved shootings, a new analysis has found.
Of the 54 officers charged in connection with the fatal shootings, only 11 have been convicted, according to the analysis from the Washington Post and Bowling Green State University.
Of those 11, nine officers were convicted in state prosecutions and had sentences ranging from six months to seven years. A further 21 were found not guilty, 19 cases are pending trial, and three came to an undisclosed resolution.
Thirty-three of the 49 victims were black, and 43 of the officers were white, the study found.
The study comes on the heels of several high-profile cases of white officers killing unarmed black males over the past year, including the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri.
Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson was not charged in the incident, nor was the New York Police Department officer who appeared to put a chokehold on Eric Garner.
Criminal justice experts estimate that police often kill more than 1,000 people a year, the Post has previously reported. The FBI revealed last year that white police officers killed black men at a rate of two per week during a seven-year period that ended in 2012, according to USA Today.
But not all law enforcement participates entirely in the agency’s police crime database, according to USA Today.
Prosecutors interviewed by the Post explained that it takes damning evidence against a cop in order for there to be criminal charges in a police-involved shooting.
Such evidence led to murder charges against North Charleston police officer Michael Slager after mobile phone video emerged of him shooting Walter Scott in the back. He was also fired.
Video has been released this past week of two other fatal police shootings, one in Tulsa, Oklahoma and another in Miami Gardens, Florida. Authorities have not said whether charges will be brought in either case.
In the absence of videos like this or other forensic evidence, those prosecutors say, it comes down to the officer’s word versus any witnesses.
“It’s difficult to prove an officer is not justified beyond a reasonable doubt, because you almost have to get inside their head to know what he was thinking and feeling,” a former juror in a police shooting case told the Post.
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