News organizations across the country are taking a deeper look at police shootings.
Police shootings in recent years have galvanized the Black Lives Matter movement, sparked a national discussion about race in the United States and encouraged high-profile protests. Police shootings are also receiving much more scrutiny and analysis from the media.
A number of news outlets are showing readers how often police shootings happen. The Guardian is tracking the number of people killed by police officers with an investigation called The Counted. The Washington Post is doing something similar with a database of people shot and killed by law enforcement.
The latest news organization to tackle the issue is the Texas Tribune, which last week published a multipart series looking at officer-involved shootings in Texas. The Tribune dug into shootings from 2010 to 2015 in Texas cities with a population of 100,000 or more. In those 36 cities, 881 officers were involved in 656 shootings. During this time period seven officers were indicted. None has yet been convicted.
The Seattle Times did a similar investigation into police shootings here and how a law created in 1986 is the nation’s most restrictive use-of-force law in the nation, making it nearly impossible to prosecute a law-enforcement officer for killing someone unless a prosecutor can prove the officer acted with malice and not in good faith. The Times’ investigation found, like the Tribune’s, that a disproportionate number of those killed were African Americans.
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The investigation, Shielded by the Law, looked at police shootings between 2005 and 2014. In that time period 213 people were killed by police and only one officer was charged. It was the only case brought against an officer who killed someone since the 1986 law was passed.
The family of Che Taylor, a man shot and killed by Seattle police in February, has joined with other family members of people slain by police to try and overturn the law. Initiative 873 is known as the John T. Williams Bill in honor of a First Nations woodcarver who was killed by Seattle police officer Ian Birk in 2011. Birk resigned and wasn’t prosecuted.
Pacific Northwest Magazine has carried stories recently that get at the complex relationship between the police and those they serve. The magazine recently explored the impact of a police shooting on the Latino community in Pasco and what it is like to be a Seattle cop in an age of scrutiny and serving a population that is often hostile.