Philadelphia police shot 14 people to death last year, a spike from previous years, reports the Philadelphinq Inquirer, quoting the department’s Integrity and Accountability Office. While concluding that “the use of firearms by Philadelphia police officers is not widespread or gratuitous,” the study by Integrity Officer Ellen Green-Ceisler cited case after case of questionable police shootings and criticized the department’s investigations of those cases. The report said there were 11 fatal shootings in 2003; the department said the figure for that year was 10. During the previous five years, fatal shootings by police averaged five a year.
Neither the report nor the department offered an explanation of why the number of killings had climbed. Between 1998 and 2003, the report said, African American men represented 71 percent of those killed and 82 percent of the injured. The report said this did not appear to reflect racial bias. “These statistics strongly suggest that the conduct of the suspect may be more relevant in determining whether a suspect will be the target of an officer-involved shooting, rather than the suspect’s race,” the report said.