On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) released a report on their Officer Involved Shooting track record in 2015. It's worse than it was in 2014.
According to the report, 48 suspects were shot at by police in 2015, compared to 30 in the previous year—a 60% increase. Of those, 38 were struck by the gunfire. And those shot were mostly black or mentally ill.
According to the LAPD, there was a 300% uptick in police shootings of suspects with documented mental illnesses.
The report also found that some minority suspects were disproportionately struck by police fire. The Los Angeles Times points out that while just 9% of the city's population is black, 21% of those struck by officer fire (8 of 38) were black. And while 48% of Los Angelenos are Latino, 58% (22 out of 38) of those struck by police were Latino.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said in a statement that the report itself is important. He said, "this report represents the LAPD's steadfast commitment to providing detailed information on the Department's uses of force," adding that "this unprecedented analysis and amount of information will help the LAPD continuously improve our efforts to preserve life and protect the community."
The report also tracks use of force incidents more broadly.
According to the LAPD, forceful actions by police against suspects are relatively low. From the report's executive summary:
It is important to note that a vast majority of police interactions with the public do not involve use of force. In 2015, the Department had 1,503,758 public contacts. During those public contacts, 1,924 resulted in a use of force. These use of force incidents represented only 0.13% of the Department’s total public contacts.
In mentioning less lethal options, the LAPD noted that it currently has 3,305 Tasers and has requested funding for 4,400 more. Though Tasers are considered safer options, they can be lethal.
The report comes as Los Angeles residents mark the one-year anniversary of the death of Charly “Africa” Keunang, a homeless man shot six times by police. Keunang had spent time in a mental institution. The Associated Press reports that people marking his death interrupted the LAPD's press briefing on the report.
Deadly use of force against mentally ill suspects is not a problem contained to the LAPD—we've seen horrifying incidents in Dallas, Miami Gardens and elsewhere. Overall, according to a recent report, the mentally ill are 16 times more likely than their mentally well counterparts to be killed by police. It's time for a change.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.