In the United States, black people are over three times as likely to be killed by police than white Americans despite having a higher likelihood of being unarmed. According to the Washington Post, while only being 13 percent of the population, 25 percent of fatal police encounters involve black Americans. On top of this, 99 percent of police killings do not result in police officers being charged with a crime.
Several high profile cases, especially in the last few years, highlight the problem in this country when the police take the law into their own hands and black men or women. The epidemic of African Americans being killed by law enforcement has created movements such as Black Lives Matter and is the source of plenty of heated debates about police violence on social media.
High-Profile Cases Of Black People Killed By Police
Killed: May 25, 2020 – Age: 46 Years Old
A Minneapolis policeman with a known history of violence while on the police force, killed George Floyd by putting pressure on the back of his neck until Floyd suffocated to death. The police officer primarily responsible for Floyd’s death, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with manslaughter and third-degree murder. The other three officers involved in the killing of George Floyd have yet to be arrested.
Killed: March 13, 2020 – Age: 26 Years Old
Just before the police killed George Floyd, we found out about the story of Breonna Taylor. Taylor was an EMT worker who was asleep in her bed when the police (who thought she was a known drug dealer) burst into her home and shot her eight times. As of today, none of the officers involved have been arrested despite pressure from government officials.
Killed: April 19, 2015 – Age: 25 Years Old
Six Baltimore police officers were involved in the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who died in police custody. Prosecutors in the case dropped all the charges against these officers after a hung jury acquitted them. Gray’s family settled with the city for over $6 million in September 2015.
Killed: July 6, 2016 – Age: 32 Years Old
George Floyd was not the first high-profile case of a black man in Minnesota being killed by police officers. In St. Anthony, Minnesota, Philando Castile was shot and killed in his car by officer Jeronimo Yanez. Castile told Yanez that he was carrying a gun. However, Castile did not have the gun out. Officer Yanez then opened fire on Castile even though he was unarmed.
The fatal incident was live-streamed on Facebook by Castile’s girlfriend. Yanez was acquitted of manslaughter, but the City of St. Anthony awarded the Castile family $3 million.
Killed: July 5, 2016 – Age: 37 Years Old
Alton Sterling was killed on camera by two white Baton Rouge Police Department officers who held Sterling to the ground and shot him. The lead up to the police shooting was Sterling selling CD’s outside of a convenience store. Federal prosecutors decided not to seek charges against the two cops as there was an unproven claim that Sterling had a weapon on him.
Killed: November 15, 2015 – Age: 24 Years Old
Another African-American from Minnesota killed by police was Jamar Clark. Officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze shot Clark in the head. Witnesses said that Clark was already handcuffed before being shot. Neither Ringgenberg nor Schwarze was charged for the killing.
Killed: November 22, 2014 – Age: 12 Years Old
Tamir Rice was shot and killed by police officers in Cleveland while in a recreational area. Rice had a pellet gun tucked away in his waistband, which officers mistook for a real weapon. The officers involved in the case Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback, were not indicted for the fatal shooting. The Rice family received $6 million; Loehmann was fired, and Garmback was suspended for less than two weeks.
Michael Brown Jr.
Killed: August 9th, 2014 – Age: 18 Years Old
Michael Brown Jr. was shot and killed by officer Darren Wilson, and his dead body was left in the summer heat for over four hours to the horror and dismay of the residents of Ferguson. Wilson was never indicted on any charges, and he later resigned. The treatment of Brown kicked off weeks of protest in that area, but it also led to change as several officials either were fired or quit because of what happened.
Killed: July 17th, 2014 – Age: 27 Years Old
Just like George Floyd, Eric Garner was killed by police when he was choked to death by a white New York City police officer after being reported for selling loose cigarettes. A grand jury refused to indict the officer involved in his death, and the city had to pay his family $6 million.
Killed: July 19, 2015 – Age: 43 Years Old
Sam Dubose’s story may not be as well known as the others mentioned, but it is just as important. Dubose was shot by the University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing during a 2015 traffic stop. Like most of these cases, Tensing got off, and the university reached a financial settlement with the family.
Dubose was unarmed at the time of the shooting. Tensing said the reason why he shot Dubose was he feared being run over. The university, however, did have some policy changes due to this incident.