Department of Justice

A Look at High-Profile Police-Related Deaths of Black People in the US

There have been several cases in United States in recent years that have increased debate about race and policing

A former St. Louis police officer was acquitted Friday in the fatal shooting of a drug suspect following a chase.

Jason Stockley was charged with first-degree murder in the 2011 death of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith. Testimony in the trial ended Aug. 9, but Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson weighed evidence for more than a month before ruling.

Stockley and his partner sought to question Smith after observing what appeared to be a drug deal on a fast-food restaurant parking lot. Smith drove away, prompting a chase.

Stockley shot into Smith's car five times after the chase. He testified Smith was moving his hand toward an area of the seat where a gun was found. But prosecutors said Stockley planted the gun.

Stockley is white and Smith was black. The case is among several across the United States in recent years that have increased debate about race and policing. Here are some other high-profile deaths of blacks during police encounters:

The U.S. Department of Justice said Tuesday it won't bring federal civil rights charges against six Baltimore officers involved in the arrest and in-custody death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man whose death touched off weeks of protests. Gray was shackled but alive when he was put in a Baltimore police van in April 2015. He came out with severe neck injuries. Six officers were charged initially, but prosecutors in July 2016 dropped all remaining charges after acquittals and a hung jury. Gray's family agreed to a $6.4 million settlement with the city in September 2015.

Chicago officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder in November 2015, on the same day that the city, under a judge's orders, released dashcam video showing 17-year-old McDonald being shot 16 times on Oct. 20, 2014. Van Dyke, who is white, has pleaded not guilty. The Justice Department determined in January that Chicago police have a long history of civil rights violations and excessive force. A Cook County grand jury looking into allegations of a cover up is weighing further indictments in the case, the Chicago Sun Times reported in August.

A split review board announced in August that it won't challenge a police department's finding that its officer was justified in the fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2016. The board split 4-4 after reviewing the internal police probe. The board will issue confidential recommendations for policy changes. The shooting provoked several days of unrest, resulting in a death, dozens of arrests and millions of dollars in damage.

A judge in July dismissed charges against Ray Tensing, a white former University of Cincinnati officer who fatally shot Sam DuBose, an unarmed black motorist, during a 2015 traffic stop. The judge's decision came after a prosecutor declined to pursue a third murder trial; the first two ended in hung juries. Tensing has said he feared he could be dragged or run over as DuBose tried to drive away. The university fired Tensing, restructured its public safety department and reached a $5.3 million settlement that includes free undergraduate tuition for DuBose's 13 children.

A jury in June acquitted former Milwaukee officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown, who is black, of first-degree reckless homicide in the death of Sylville Smith in 2016 a decision that ignited riots. Smith was shot following a traffic stop. Police say Smith ran away holding a gun. Prosecutors say Smith fell and Heaggan-Brown shot him once in the arm as he was getting up, still holding the weapon while facing the officer. They say Heaggan-Brown's second shot came after Smith had thrown his gun over a fence. Heaggan-Brown, 25, said he thought Smith was reaching for another gun in his waistband when he fired again.

St. Anthony, Minnesota, officer Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted of manslaughter in June in the fatal shooting of Philando Castile, a black motorist who had just informed the officer that he was carrying a gun. The case in suburban St. Paul garnered immediate attention because Castile's girlfriend streamed the aftermath live on Facebook. Yanez testified that Castile was pulling his gun out of his pocket despite his commands not to do so.

Roy Oliver, a white police officer in suburban Dallas, was fired and is charged with murder in the fatal shooting in April of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards. The U.S. Department of Justice also is investigating. Oliver fired a rifle at a car full of teenagers leaving a party, striking Edwards, who was a passenger in the vehicle. Balch Springs, Texas, police had originally said the vehicle was reversing "in an aggressive manner" toward officers, but Police Chief Jonathan Haber later said video taken at the scene proved the vehicle was actually driving away. Oliver is free on bond.

An Oklahoma jury in May found white Tulsa police officer Betty Jo Shelby not guilty of first-degree manslaughter in the 2016 death of Terence Crutcher, 40, who was shot shortly after Shelby arrived to find Crutcher's SUV stopped in the middle of the road. Shelby testified that she was afraid because Crutcher didn't obey her commands and appeared to reach inside his vehicle. Prosecutors told jurors that Shelby overreacted, noting that videos from a patrol car dashboard and a police helicopter showed Crutcher had his hands in the air and did not have a weapon.

Federal prosecutors announced in May they would not seek charges against two white police officers who were involved in a deadly encounter with Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, last summer. Sterling, 37, was shot to death on July 5, 2016, as the officers pinned him to the pavement outside a convenience store where he had been selling CDs. The killing was captured on cellphone video and circulated widely online, sparking demonstrations across Baton Rouge. U.S. Attorney Corey Amundson said Sterling was armed during the confrontation and the investigation didn't find enough evidence to pursue charges. State authorities are investigating whether to bring charges.

Jamar Clark's November 2015 shooting death sparked weeks of protests in Minneapolis. Two white officers, Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze, were trying to arrest the 24-year-old when he was shot once in the head. He died a day later. Some witnesses said Clark was handcuffed when he was shot, but federal and state probes concluded that he was not. Investigators said Ringgenberg felt Clark's hand trying to grab his weapon and shouted to Schwarze, who then shot Clark. Prosecutors decided not to charge either officer, and an internal police investigation cleared them.

Jeremy McDole, 28, was sitting in his wheelchair when he was shot and killed in September 2015 in Wilmington, Delaware, after police received a 911 call about a man with a gun. A bystander's cellphone footage showed officers repeatedly telling McDole to drop his weapon and raise his hands, with McDole reaching for his waist area before shots erupted. The Delaware attorney general's office decided not to criminally charge four Wilmington police officers involved. A federal judge approved the city's $1.5 million settlement with McDole's family.

Former Portsmouth, Virginia, police officer Stephen Rankin was sentenced last October to 2½ years in prison for fatally shooting William Chapman II while responding to a shoplifting call outside a Wal-Mart on April 22, 2015. Prosecutors allege Rankin killed the unarmed 18-year-old "willfully, deliberately and with premeditation." Some witnesses said Chapman was combative, and one said he knocked away Rankin's stun gun. Rankin, who is white, was fired.

Prosecutors are recommending decades in prison for white South Carolina police officer Michael Slager, who shot Walter Scott in the back as the motorist fled following a traffic stop. Slager pleaded guilty on May 2 to a federal charge of violating Scott's civil rights. A judge will determine his sentence, which could range from probation to life in prison without parole. Scott's shooting in April 2015 was captured on cellphone video and seen worldwide.

Former Tulsa County volunteer sheriff's deputy Robert Bates, 74, was sentenced in 2016 to four years in prison for second-degree manslaughter in the April 2015 death of Eric Harris, 44, who was unarmed and restrained. Bates, who is white, has said he confused his stun gun with his handgun. That shooting led to the temporary suspension of the reserve deputy program after a report found poor training of the volunteer officers, a lack of oversight, and cronyism. Bates is appealing his conviction.

Tamir Rice, 12, was fatally shot by a white Cleveland police officer in a recreational area in November 2014. Officers were responding to a report of a man waving a gun. The boy had a pellet gun tucked in his waistband and was shot after the officers' cruiser skidded to a stop, just feet away. A grand jury in December 2015 declined to indict patrolman Timothy Loehmann, who fired the fatal shot, and training officer Frank Garmback. The city settled Rice's family's lawsuit for $6 million. Cleveland in May fired Loehmann and suspended Garmback for 10 days. The officers' union called the discipline politically motivated.

Rookie New York City police officer Peter Liang was convicted of manslaughter last year in the November 2014 death of 28-year-old Akai Gurley. Liang, an American of Chinese descent, said he was patrolling a public housing high-rise with his gun drawn when a sound startled him and he fired accidentally. A bullet ricocheted off a wall, hitting Gurley. A judge reduced the conviction to negligent homicide and sentenced Liang to five years' probation and 800 hours of community service. The city settled with Gurley's family for $4.1 million.

Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, was fatally shot by a white officer, Darren Wilson, in August 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. A grand jury declined to indict Wilson, and the U.S. Justice Department opted against civil rights charges. Wilson later resigned. The death of Brown led to months of occasionally violent protests and became a catalyst for the Black Lives Matter movement, which rebukes police treatment of minorities.

Police in the Dayton, Ohio, suburb of Beavercreek responded to a Wal-Mart store in August 2014 on a call of a man waving an apparent rifle. A white officer fatally shot John Crawford III, 22, who was carrying what turned out to be an air rifle from a store shelf. Police said they believed it was a real gun and that he didn't respond to their commands to put it down. A grand jury declined to indict the officers. The U.S. Justice Department said it was reviewing the case, and an attorney for Crawford's family has filed a federal lawsuit.

Eric Garner, 43, died in July 2014 in New York City after a white officer placed him in a chokehold during an arrest for selling loose cigarettes. A grand jury declined to indict that officer, or any others involved in the arrest. The city agreed to pay a $6 million civil settlement.

Chicago police officer Dante Servin resigned in May 2016 after the police superintendent said he should be fired for killing Rekia Boyd four years earlier. Servin was off duty when he shot the 22-year-old unarmed woman. She had been walking down a street with her friends when he told them to be quiet, and he fired when he thought he saw a gun. Prosecutors charged Servin with involuntary manslaughter; a judge acquitted him in April 2016, saying he'd been improperly charged. The city settled a wrongful-death lawsuit in 2013 with Boyd's family for $4.5 million.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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