police shootings
October 14, 2019

A Fort Worth, Texas, police officer who shot and killed a woman inside her home early Saturday was charged with murder on Monday, shortly after he resigned from the force.

The former officer, Aaron Dean, is being held at the Tarrant County Correction Center, Fort Worth Police Sgt. Chris Daniels said. The woman, 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson, was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew when she was shot. A neighbor had noticed Jefferson's front door was slightly open and called the police department's non-emergency line, asking them to do a wellness check. Body-camera footage released by the police department shows an officer shining a flashlight into the house, then yelling, "Put your hands up, show me your hands," before firing one shot.

The white officer shooting a black woman inside her home caused immediate outrage in Fort Worth, and Daniels had a message for all concerned. "To the citizens and residents of our city, we feel and understand your anger and your disappointment and we stand by you as we work together to make Fort Worth a better place for us all," he said. Jefferson's older sister, Ashley Carr, said Atatiana was "simply going on along with her life, living a law-abiding citizen's peaceful life, and she was killed by a reckless act of a Fort Worth police officer. There is simply no justification for his actions." Catherine Garcia

August 19, 2019

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Monday signed into law a bill that sets new rules on police use of force.

Activists called for the measure, which takes effect on Jan. 1, after a string of police shootings involving unarmed black men. Currently, law enforcement officers are able to use deadly force when it is "reasonable," but under the new bill, that changes to when it is "necessary." The law also updates a code that goes back to 1872, the Los Angeles Times reports, by prohibiting officers from shooting at fleeing felons who do not pose an immediate danger.

Supporters hope this will encourage police departments to train officers in de-escalation and other strategies. The law's author, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D), said it will "make a difference not only in California, but we know it will make a difference around the world." Newsom said the law means "nothing unless we make this moment meaningful. And so that is the goal and the desire of all of us, law enforcement and members of the community, to address these issues in a more systemic way, and that's going to take a lot more work than passing a piece of legislation."

Stevante Clark — whose brother, Stephon Clark, was shot and killed in March 2018 by Sacramento police while he was in his backyard, unarmed and holding a cellphone — told the Times the bill is "watered down, everybody knows that. But at least we are getting something done. At least we are having the conversation now." Catherine Garcia

June 24, 2019

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg held a contentious town hall on Sunday to address anger over the June 16 police shooting of a black man, Eric Logan, by a white police officer. Prosecutors investigating the shooting said Logan, 54, approached Sgt. Ryan O'Neill with a knife after O'Neill confronted him for allegedly breaking into cars. But O'Neill's body camera was not on, and many people at the town hall placed the shooting in the broader context of longstanding tensions between South Bend's black community, which makes up about a quarter of the city's population, and its police force, which is now about 5 percent African American.

Buttigieg, who returned to South Bend from campaigning for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, said he has asked the Justice Department's civil rights division to investigate the shooting and the local prosecutor for an independent investigator. He took responsibility for failing to reform the police department. "The effort to recruit more minority officers to the department and the effort to introduce body cameras have not succeeded and I accept responsibility for that," Buttigieg said. He was joined onstage by Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski.

Buttigieg, 37, has had a sometimes-fraught relationship with his city's black community since he demoted the city's first black police chief during his first term as mayor. "Get the people that are racist off the streets," one woman in the audience said during Sunday's town hall. "Reorganize your department. You can do that by Friday." Buttigieg suggested the attention on this police shooting of a black man might "help us do some good" and said he's not "running away from it," and neither can America. "This problem has to get solved in my lifetime. I don't know of a person or a city that has solved it," he said. "But I know that if we do not solve it in my lifetime, it will sink America." Peter Weber

January 19, 2019

Jason Van Dyke, the Chicago police officer convicted of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery for his fatal shooting of a black teenager named Laquan McDonald in 2014, was sentenced Friday to six years and nine months in prison.

With good behavior, Van Dyke could be out of custody in three years or less, his lawyer said. The special prosecutor who handled the case had requested a sentence of 18 to 20 years, and the sentence Van Dyke received is for the murder charge alone, not the battery. Each of the battery convictions had a mandatory minimum sentence of six years, and the judge could have ordered them to be served sequentially.

On Thursday, three other officers accused of falsifying reports to justify the shooting were acquitted. Bonnie Kristian

November 24, 2018

A man fatally shot by police at a Hoover, Alabama, mall on Thursday night was not the gunman who wounded two people following an altercation, officials said Friday evening, contrary to initial police statements. The actual shooter is thought to be still at large.

Police in the Birmingham suburb originally claimed Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., 21, was the shooter responsible for injuring another man and a young girl in the Black Friday shopping shooting. But in a later statement, they said their "initial media release was not totally accurate" and Bradford is now, at most, thought to have been "involved in some aspect of the altercation."

Bradford, who was black and a member of the military, was fatally shot by an officer near the scene of the gunfire. He was reportedly carrying a handgun which he did not fire. (Alabama does not require a permit for open handgun carry.)

Bradford "was a super sweet, funny, kind, and goodhearted young man who never had a bad word to say to anyone," said his former teacher, Carl Dean, of Holy Family Cristo Rey Catholic High School in Birmingham. "When I saw this morning that he was allegedly involved in causing the tragedy at the mall last night, I was shocked and in disbelief as well as heartbroken that this young man is no longer with us." Bonnie Kristian

November 13, 2018

A 26-year-old security guard at Manny's Blue Room in suburban Chicago apprehended a gunman who had opened fire in the bar early Monday, but when police arrived, they shot the guard, Jemel Roberson, who is black. He was the only one killed in the incident, though four other people were injured. "Everybody was screaming out, 'He was a security guard,' and they basically saw a black man with a gun and killed him," witness Adam Harris told Chicago's WGN.

Manny's is in Robbins, Illinois, but police from neighboring suburbs responded to the call about shots fired at the bar. It was an officer from the Midlothian Police Department who fatally shot Roberson. Illinois State Police will investigate the killing. Midlothian Police Chief Daniel Delaney did not say whether the officer who shot Roberson has been placed on administrative leave. Roberson had a valid permit to own a gun.

Roberson grew up in Wicker Park, he played the organ at several local churches, and he was studying to become a police officer. He is at least the 840th person shot and killed by a police officer in the U.S. this year, by The Washington Post's count, and one of 181 — or 22 percent — who were black. The U.S. is about 13 percent African American. Peter Weber

September 11, 2018

Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, who fatally shot her neighbor, Botham Jean, may ultimately receive a more serious charge than manslaughter, for which she was arrested Sunday night, said Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson on Monday.

Guyger's case will go before a grand jury, Johnson told reporters, which may indict her on a graver charge. "The grand jury will be that entity that will make the final decision in terms of the charge or charges that will come out of this case," Johnson said. "We prepare to present a thorough case to the grand jury of Dallas County, so that the right decision can be made in this case."

Though police shootings have proved a stubborn exception to the rule, grand juries overwhelmingly choose to indict. The jurors only hear from the prosecutor — the defense does not present a case — so Johnson's expectation of charges beyond manslaughter have strong, though not certain, predictive power.

Among the the issues the jury will likely consider is the question of how Guyger came to be in Jean's apartment, as reports on this subject have differed. According to her arrest warrant, Guyger, who is white, found the door ajar and fired on Jean, who was black, when she saw his silhouette in the dark apartment.

However, an early report by a local NBC affiliate cited an unnamed Dallas police officer saying the door was closed and Guyger "struggled with the lock" until Jean "swung open the door and startled her." A Tuesday CBS report seems to support the earlier account, as two other neighbors have come forward to say they heard Guyger knocking and asking to be let inside. Bonnie Kristian

September 10, 2018

Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger was arrested Sunday night on a manslaughter charge for fatally shooting her neighbor Botham Jean after apparently mistaking his apartment for her own. Guyger was booked into the Kaufman County jail at 7:20 p.m. but was no longer listed as an inmate by 8:30 p.m. Her bail was set at $300,000 and a jail employee told The Associated Press she had been released on bond. Jean, 26, was an employee of PricewaterhouseCoopers who grew up on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia and attended college in Arkansas. Guyger, who has been with the Dallas Police Department for almost five years, is white. Jean was black.

Jean's family had been calling for Guyger's arrest since the shooting on Thursday, suggesting she was receiving special treatment because she's a police officer. Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall said Saturday that the Texas Rangers, who took over the investigation on Friday, had asked that no warrant be issued because they wanted to investigate some new leads first. "I am grateful to Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall for her leadership and foresight in calling for the Rangers to handle the investigation to ensure there was no appearance of bias," Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said in a statement on Sunday night. Peter Weber

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