Washington Post: Few Fatal Police Shootings Lead to Charges


Fifty-four police officers have been charged over the past decade for fatally shooting someone while on duty, says an analysis by the Washington Post and researchers at Bowling Green State University.

This analysis, based on a wide range of public records and interviews with law enforcement, judicial and other legal experts, sought to identify every officer who faced charges­ for such shootings since 2005.

These represent a small fraction of the thousands of fatal police shootings that have occurred across the U.S. In an overwhelming majority of the cases where an officer was charged, the person killed was unarmed. It usually took more than that.

When prosecutors pressed charges, there were typically other factors that made the case exceptional, including: a victim shot in the back, a video recording of the incident, incriminating testimony from other officers or allegations of a coverup. Forty-three cases involved at least one of these four factors. Nineteen cases involved at least two.

“To charge an officer in a fatal shooting, it takes something so egregious, so over the top that it cannot be explained in any rational way,” said Philip Stinson, a criminologist at Bowling Green who studies arrests of police. “It also has to be a case that prosecutors are willing to hang their reputation on.”

Even in these most extreme instances, the majority of the officers whose cases have been resolved have not been convicted.

Read The Washington Post story HERE.

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