The death of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota has raised many questions regarding fatal police shootings in the USA in the past few years. The Wright case resulted in protests where hundreds of people flooded the streets asking for justice for Daunte Wright. The timing for this incident could not have been more appropriate with the trial of Derek Chauvin, a former police officer charged with killing George Floyd, taking place just a few miles away from the Wright incident.
In this article, we have accumulated a list of police shootings in the United States and police-related deaths in the past 7 years and the result of each of those cases.
Daunte Wright, 2021
A 20-year-old black man, Daunte Wright was stopped at a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center for a traffic violation of expired registration tags. According to Tim Gannon, Chief of Brooklyn Center Police Department, it was discovered that Wright had an outstanding warrant for arrest.
Wright was to be detained on the spot when a struggle between the officers and the detainee ensued. News reports state that the body camera footage from one of the officers showed them pointing a handgun at Wright and shouting “Taser” and a shot is fired. The footage shows that the officer shouting “I just shot him” to the other two officers while Wright drives away only to crash into another vehicle and be pronounced dead at the scene.
Chief Gannon who truly believed that the officer truly intended to taser Mr. Wright instead of shooting him, resigned along with officer Kim Potter, 48, who shot Mr. Wright. Ms. Potter was charged with second-degree manslaughter and has been arrested.
Adam Toledo, 2021
The recently released body camera footage of the shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo shows an unidentified police officer chasing him down an alley in West Side Chicago. The boy was stopped and ordered to show his hands and while he appeared to follow the order a shot was fired at him.
Toledo and another man were being chased after there were reports of gunshots in the area. Chicago Police Department claimed that Toledo had a gun in his hand which is unclear in the footage that was released. However, later in the video, a gun is seen at the crime scene. The incident has resulted in civil unrest with 33 data files about the incident that were released by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability. Security footage from the surrounding areas showed Toledo throwing away the handgun when ordered to put the weapon down but only seconds later was shot by officer Stillman.
The Mayor of Chicago Mr. Lori Lightfoot said, “Chicago, as well as way too many parts of our country, has a long legacy of police violence and police misconduct that have left far too many residents, especially those who are black and brown, in a constant state of fear and pain.”
The case is still under investigation and Officer Eric Stillman has been placed under a 30-day administrative leave. The timing of this case and the long history of gun violence resulted in a lot of anger among the people of Chicago and people ended up on the streets asking law enforcement agents to stop killing them!
Marcelo Garcia, 2021
A 911 call in Sunflower Prairie court, Texas resulted in the eventual death of 46-year-old Marcelo Garcia. Garcia was struggling with mental illnesses and his wife would habitually call 911 every time he had an episode. While the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office deputies were on their way to the house, dispatch had also called in for a mental health unit for this specific situation. However, the unit was busy with another incident at the time.
On arrival, the deputy witnessed Garcia armed with a knife at the front door. According to the Sheriff’s Office the man was asked to drop the knife but he “aggressively approached the deputy” instead. This resulted in the deputy firing several rounds at Garcia killing the man on the spot.
According to Marcelo’s sister, Jessica Garza, he had been struggling with schizophrenia and Bipolar disorder for years and it was common for his wife to call for help (911) during his episodes. Moreover, the Harrison County Sheriff’s office also admitted to receiving distress calls from the same house for similar incidents before.
The name of the deputy who shot and killed Garcia has not been disclosed. However, they have been placed under administrative leave while the investigation continues. The family of the deceased will be filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible parties.
Natzeryt Viertal, 2021
22-year-old Natzeryt Viertal was shot and killed on 2nd April by police officers in Salem responding to call about an armed man with “suicidal” tendencies who had injured himself. Firefighters who arrived at the scene much before the officers were threatened by Viertal with a firearm.
He was said to have confronted the two officers who approached him and as a result Corporal Clinton Sealy, one of the officers, fired a shot at Viertal. The medics available at the scene tried everything to revive the victim but were unsuccessful. Natzeryt Viertal was dead at the scene.
Marion County District Attorney’s Office placed the Oregon State Police in charge of the investigation, while officer Sealy has been put on administrative leave for the time being. Sergeant Steven Galvin who was a witness to the shooting was also placed on administrative leave.
Adrian Medearis, 2020
The director of a local gospel choir, 48-year-old Adrian Meadris was shot and killed by officer J. Ramos after an alleged scuffle between the two. Medearis was stopped for speeding and then accused of drunken driving by officer Ramos.
When Ramos tried to arrest him on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, Medearis allegedly resisted the arrest and grabbed the officer’s taser. At this moment, Officer Ramos fired 4 rounds killing Medearis on the scene.
Houston P.D. has yet to release the video footage of the incident to the public. Officer Ramos’s camera was said to have fallen off during the struggle, but the shooting was recorded on the dashboard camera and nearby security cameras.
Chief Art Acevado was said to have shown the family the footage from the shooting, however, Adrian Medearis’s brother Audrick claimed that they were never shown any footage, nor were they informed of the location of Adrian’s car or his personal belongings.
Acevado claimed that Audrick Meadris was unreachable. But Audrick posted on Facebook that he was a first responder and Cy Fair Firefighter and was easily accessible to the Houston Police Department.
The video footage from the shooting has still not been released. So, the family of the victim as well as the public has only been provided the information that the Houston Police Department has decided to disclose.
Finally, Officer J. Ramos was placed on administrative leave.
Nicholas Chavez, 2020
Continuing the streak of police shootings in Houston, Nicholas Chavez, aged 27, was shot dead on 21st April 2020. Officers responded to a “suicide in progress call” and on arrival at the scene, they found Chavez in the middle of the road armed with an unidentified weapon.
When Chavez refused to put the weapon down he was shot with tasers and bean bag rounds by the five officers who were present at the scene. According to video footage taken by a bystander at the scene, Chavez was then suddenly shot twice by one of the officers and as he dropped to the ground crawling, four out five of the officers open fired.
A total of 24 rounds were fired at Chavez instantly killing him at the scene. The officers claimed that after being shot Chavez crawled and got his hands on a stun gun and pointed it at them; “fearing for their lives” the four officers fired their guns.
Chief Art Acevado fired the four officers responsible for the shooting while the Houston Police Officer’s Union Vice President stood in support of the four officers and their families.
George Floyd, 2020
Arrested in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on suspicion of using a fake $20 bill. The 46-year-old was subject to a violent arrest which eventually led to his death on the scene. Officer Derek Chauvin of the Minneapolis Police Department knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than minutes.
Floyd complained about not being able to breathe while lying face down and handcuffed with the Officer Chauvin’s knee holding his neck down but the officer ignored his pleas. Another officer by the name of Tou Thao was also present at the scene and prevented bystanders from interfering with the arrest.
Floyd had been dead for a while but Chauvin refused to remove his knee from the victim’s neck till medics told him to do so. The autopsy determined that Floyd’s death was a homicide and should be treated like one.
The incident sparked extreme reactions from the black community bringing up incidents of police brutality and wrongful death over the years. People were outraged about police shootings involving people of colour and a lack of accountability from the police.
The four officers present at the scene- Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J, Alexander Keung, were immediately dismissed from the police force. Chauvin was charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. Officer Thao, Lane, and Keung were charged with aiding and abetting.
The trial of Derek Chauvin began on 8 March 2021 and people can be seen rallying and protesting outside the courts asking for justice.
Breonna Taylor, 2020
26-year-old Breonna Taylor was shot and killed inside her home by police officers in Louisville, Kentucky. Taylor was asleep at home with her boyfriend Kenneth Walker when three officers entered their apartment with a search warrant in a drug case.
The officers were in plainclothes and took the couple by complete surprise. In their confusion and fear, Walker, the victim’s boyfriend, fired his licensed gun at the officers as they believed it was a break-in while dialing 911. Taylor was unarmed and ended up getting shot by the officers 8 times. She was dead at the scene.
One of the officers who blindly shot ten rounds in the house, former officer Brett Hankison was fired and charged for wanton endangerment. Taylor’s shooting and death, however, did not result in the officers being charged with manslaughter.
Taylor’s family was paid $12m, as part of a settlement for a wrongful death lawsuit, by Louisville.
Carlvon Mayo, 2019
Houston has seen its fair share of fatal police shootings in the past year. Officers from the Houston Police Department’s Crime Reduction Unit were responding to a 911 call regarding a shootout in an apartment complex on Martindale Road.
A woman was shot in the leg by an armed man. While at the scene there were several other 911 calls about an armed in a different apartment complex. Two of the officers present at the Martindale Road scene were sent off to 5901 Selinsky Road where they found a man with a gun on the stairs of one of the apartment buildings.
The man had allegedly tried to barge into the neighbours apartment and according to Chief Bobby Dobbins, the man insisted that the officers “go ahead” and that he was ready as the officers ordered him to put down the firearm.
The man, soon identified as Carlvon Mayo aged 35, allegedly pointed the gun at the officers which prompted them to shoot him. Mayo died at the scene.
After the fatal police shootings, investigators were still trying to determine whether Mayo was the original shooter they were looking for on Martindale Road. The officers were applauded for the shooting by Chief Dobbins who said, “We think they did a good job.”
Atatiana Jefferson, 2019
On an early Saturday morning, Atatiana was shot and killed by a Fort Worth Police officer in her home. Police were responding to a call made by one of the neighbours reporting that the front door of Jefferson’s house was open.
The body camera footage that was released showed that the officer was circling the house trying to look in with a flashlight when they were suddenly heard yelling at someone through the window to put down the weapon. Soon after, the officer fired his gun.
Atatiana was said to have been pointing a gun at the officers. The officer shot and killed Atatiana in front of her 8-year-old nephew who witnessed the entire incident.
Officer Aaron Dean who was responsible for the shootings retired from the Fort Worth Police Department days after the shooting. Later, he was arrested on a murder charge for the shooting of Jefferson and was indicted on 20 December 2019.
Botham Jean, 2018
26-year-old Botham Jean was another addition to the long list of police shootings in the USA. He was shot in his own apartment by an off-duty officer. Officer Amber Guyger, 30, had just finished a long shift at work when she came back to what she thought was her own apartment. However, she had entered Jean’s apartment and mistook him for a burglar.
Officer Guyger shot the man in a state of panic. Jean was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. The neighbours claimed to have heard the commotion but didn’t know what actually happened until they were later informed of the situation.
Officer Amber Guyger was charged with manslaughter. An affidavit released later proved that Guyger’s apartment was just below Jean’s. She was found guilty of murdering Botham Jean and was sentenced to ten years in prison.
Since 2015, The Guardian has been keeping track of all the fatal police shootings and the numbers are troubling. According to the data collected, the highest percentage of fatal police shootings involves black people as the victims with Hispanic people being next on the list. Many of the cases don’t even make the national news because of the sheer frequency of these incidents.