A new report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News, has found that 44 percent of the 184 Georgians who were shot and killed by police since 2010 were either unarmed or shot in the back.
Every one of the 184 shootings were deemed lawful by the Georgia justice system, a claim that is now dubious in light of the recent findings.
Since there is no independent body that analyzes police shooting statistics, local news organizations conducted an in-depth investigation into hundreds of interviews, read more than 500 public record files and thousands of pages from police reports and court records — the largest in Georgia’s history.
“So many of these cases involve somebody being shot in the back. It’s very, very troubling,” said Philip Stinson, an expert on police shootings and misconduct from Bowling Green State University. “I can think of some very, very limited circumstances where it would be legally appropriate, but it’s rare circumstances… You can’t just shoot somebody that’s running away from you.”
The investigation revealed several disturbing statistics into the scale of the police violence in Georgia. According to their findings, three out five of their victims are African-American that were shot by police while unarmed or in the back. Compared to about two out of five who are Caucasian. Blacks were twice as likely to be shot by police based on population statistics and tended to be younger, with a median age of 29, Tjhe median age for white victims was 41.
The findings also showed:
- 31 cases, or one out of six police firearm discharges, the victim was unarmed.
- 18 cases, the victim was shot solely in the back of their body.
- 52 other cases, the person was shot in another region of their body as well as the back.
- 11 cases, the victims were both unarmed and shot in the back.
The investigation also reported that one in four of those shot by the police showed some signs of mental illness. A third of whites killed showed signs of mental illness, compared to approximately a fifth of black victims. Additionally, only nine of the 184 fatalities were women.
Out of the number of police officers who were involved in fatal shootings, 20 had serious disciplinary issues. Four were fired or resigned in lieu of termination from a previous job in Georgia, two were previously disciplined for lying, and failed to complete annual use-of-force training — which the state of Georgia requires for officers to keep their power of arrest.
Again, none of the officers involved in any of the 184 fatal shootings were found guilty of any wrongdoing.
One of the most controversial shootings by Georgia police was the death of Maurice Hampton in 2011, who was pulled over for running a stop sign and subsequently ran from police because he did not have a license. Witnesses said that Hampton and the officer were in a scuffle, and he was shot in the back when he attempted to flee.
However, the police officer was cleared of all charges even after giving a contradicting statement.
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