Monday, October 31, 2016

Fewer Police Shootings in Chicago

A little over 2 years ago, Laquan McDonald was shot 16 times by Chicago police office, Jason Van Dyke. Though initially, police supervisors ruled the case as justifiable homicide, the first responding officer as well as countless Chicago citizens felt there was no need to use force against McDonald, let alone lethal force. In fact, autopsy reports indicated that 9 of the 16 shots were in McDonald's back, suggesting he was not even facing the office who shot him. (This is despite information in the initial report that stated McDonald lunged at Van Dyke, and that was the reason Van Dyke fired.) Video footage of the shooting, that was released under court order in 2015, showed multiple inconsistencies with the initial police report, and Van Dyke was eventually charged with (and is awaiting trial for) six counts of first degree murder.

Multiple protests of this incident of police brutality have been held, and the Chicago Police Department has been investigated over its use of aggressive and hostile tactics. And it appears this increased scrutiny has helped - police shootings and civilian complaints have decreased:
Complaint counts have been declining since 2012, but starting in mid-November 2015 — about two weeks before the video was released — complaints against police dropped at a rapid rate.

Police shootings have shown a similar decline. From the month in which the McDonald video was released through April of this year, the annual rate of shootings has remained lower than at any other point in our data, which goes back to September 2007. There have been four months since McDonald’s shooting in which there were no police shootings, something that occurred only twice in the seven years before the shooting.
You can view data for yourself, through the Invisible Institute, a journalistic production company on the South Side of Chicago that promotes transparency from public institutions, including the police.

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