After a sharp increase in public outrage, the number of indictments for police killings this year has more than doubled the national average.
The upsurge in outrage over police violence in recent years, has apparently resulted in quantifiable change. So far this year, more police officers have been convicted for killings in the U.S. than ever before. Many attribute this change to The Black Lives Matter movement which was born out of the events in Ferguson in 2014 when Darren wilson, a white officer, shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager. The event sparked massive protests across the country and brought awareness to the general public about the militarization of the police and the double standard of violence in our country. The Black Lives Matter movement encouraged the public to record instances of police brutality in the future which brought many of the recent cases in New York, Baltimore, and South Carolina to the eye of public.
The rise in indictments can be attributed to more bystander videos, police body cams, and a more aware public. "It's not that there has been this massive uptick in civilian deaths. It's just that there has been this massive uptick in scrutiny and protests,"Ezekiel Edwards, director of the criminal law reform project at the American Civil Liberties Union, told Reuters on Monday.
12 U.S. police officers have been indicted this year, which is more than at any time over the past decade. These numbers more than double the national average of about five a year from 2005 to 2014. Although this is a positive change, there is still a large gap between police killings and indictments. Data shows that of the 47 officers charged from 2005 to 2014, only 11 have been convicted.
The 12 indictments do not include the six Baltimore officers who are currently facing trial for the death of Freddie Gray. In April the 25 year old black man died from a spinal injury he endured after being arrested and put in the back of a police transport van. Four of the officers are facing murder or manslaughter charges.
These prosecutions represent only a small portion of police killings in the U.S. Last week, A Washington Post database showed 796 fatal police shootings this year, and report released by the Guardian newspaper recorded 927 deaths from all causes.
One of the reasons for the gap between killings and indictments is that in order for police officers to be indicted, special circumstances must be involved. Special circumstances include a victim being shot in the back, incriminating testimony from other officers, allegations of a cover-up, or a video recording of the incident, according to recent research by the Washington Post. While the hope is for more indictments, it is also for less police brutality, especially unwarranted killings.
-Bronte P., the Off The Grid Team
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC its affiliates, or its employees.
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