Police Abuse

12 Times the Police Used Deadly Force Under Questionable Circumstances in 2014

From Eric Garner to John Crawford to Tamir Rice.


Police tactics in Ferguson protests
KARG Argus Radio

Every year police in the United States kill hundreds of people—461 in 2013, according to incomplete FBI statistics based on self-reporting from local law enforcement agencies, and more than 1,000 in 2014 according to killedbypolice.net, which combs through media reports. The fatal shooting in August of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer in an interaction that began over jaywalking propelled the issue of police violence and excessive force into the national news cycle. The police response to subsequent protests similarly propelled the issue of militarized police into the national news cycle.

Eric Garner
fatal chokehold

The media attention paid to the killing of Michael Brown, in turn, also attracted media attention to police killings that otherwise may not have gotten as much notice, most notably the death of Eric Garner, who was put in a fatal chokehold by a New York City police officer after cops accused Garner of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes and tried to arrest him. Garner's death, and especially the subsequent decision by a Staten Island grand jury not to indict the officer who put him in a fatal chokehold, elicited a stronger public reaction than the 2013 killing of New York City teen Ramarley Graham, who was being chased over a small amount of marijuana, or the subsequent disposition of his homicide—one grand jury's indictment was thrown out by the judge and a second grand jury declined to indict.

Aside from the killing of Brown and Garner, there have been many other controversial police shootings and uses of deadly force, which have generally gotten a lot less attention, especially nationally. Here are 12 of the most questionable.

James Boyd

James Boyd
wrong turn in albuquerque

On March 16, homeless camper James Boyd was shot and killed by police in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in an incident caught on police helmet camera, sparking protests in Albuquerque and across New Mexico. One of the cops involved in the shooting was also caught on a state trooper dash cam earlier that day calling Boyd a "fucking lunatic" he was going to shoot in the penis with his shotgun. The officer insisted in internal interviews that the statement was a joke. He was suspended with pay and eventually indicted, but allowed to retire just in time to collect a pension despite the internal affairs probe. The other officer who shot at Boyd was also indicted and placed on desk duty. The Albuquerque Police Department (APD) insists the shooting was justified and released a 1,000 page report in October. No charges have yet been filed and the FBI investigation into the shooting continues.

The Department of Justice announced in April it had found evidence of a pattern and practice of abuse at the APD, triggering federal oversight of the department, which killed at least three people in the weeks surrounding that announcement.

Rumaine Brisbon

Phoenix PD

On December 2, Rumaine Brisbon was shot by a cop in Phoenix, Arizona, who said he feared that Brisbon was concealing a gun in his pocket while the two struggled. The cop was holding Brisbon's hand and ordering him to keep it in his pocket when he shot him in the chest. It turns out Brisbon was holding a bottle of prescription pills. Police were responding to a burglary call but after it was cancelled approached Brisbon's SUV after being told by a resident of a possible drug deal. They ran the plates and found that the SUV had an open noise complaint associated with it. The Phoenix Police Department says it is investigating the incident but defends the officer's decision to pursue Brisbon. "Let's be very clear: The officer was doing what we expect him to do," said Crump. "Investigate crimes that neighbors are telling him are occurring in that part of the complex."

John Crawford

John Crawford
family photo

On August 5, 22-year-old John Crawford was shot twice by police while holding an air rifle he picked up from the shelf at Beavercreek, Ohio, Walmart. Surveillance video from the Walmart shows police appearing to shoot Crawford as he stood in an aisle immediately upon the officers' enterance into the store. Nevertheless, in September a grand jury declined to indict the officers involved, ruling the shooting justified based on that video and the training police receive. "I think in this particular instance, because the police had reason to believe that a weapon was involved, it made it much less likely that there would be a charge," University of Dayton law professor Lori Shaw told the Huffington Post, pointing at mass shootings for adding pressure to police. "We're in 2014 … I think the public is a lot more on edge, and I'm sure that police are more on edge." The FBI is conducting a probe of the killing. When a Cleveland Browns player wore a t-shirt that said "Justice for John Crawford and Tamir Rice" (a 12-year-old whose killing by police is described below), the police union demanded an apology from the team.

Akai Gurley

Akai Gurley
family photo

On November 20, rookie NYPD officer Peter Liang fatally shot Akai Gurley while patrolling the stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project with his partner, their guns already drawn. Gurley was shot while his girlfriend was braiding his hair in the stairwell. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton insisted that the fatal shooting was the result of an "accidental discharge." According to the officers, they drew their guns because the lights were out in the stairwell. Officer Liang texted his union representative as Gurley lay dying from the police gunshot. He's been placed on "modified desk duty" while the NYPD investigates what its commissioner believes is most likely an accident.

David Hooks

David Hooks
family photo

On September 24, police in Laurens County, Georgia, shot and killed David Hooks in his own home while executing a no-knock search warrant based on information from a man who admitted to stealing Hooks' pick-up truck. The thief said he found meth in the vehicle when he turned himself into police. A 44-hour search of Hooks' home, after police had killed him, found neither drugs nor any illegal contraband. Police also insisted that an uncorroborated 2009 tip about meth in the house justified their decision to raid Hooks' home. Hooks' family says the police shot him in the head and back while he was face down on the ground. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking into the matter and an attorney for Hooks' family is calling for an FBI investigation. At an October rally over Hooks' death, State Rep. Sam Moore (R) talked about a bill he had introduced to end the practice of no-knock warrants that didn't get enough support in the state legislature.

Jack Jacquez

shot by cop

On October 12, Officer James Ashby of Rocky Ford, Colorado, entered the home of 27-year-old Jack Jacquez and, according to his family, shot him in the back and pepper sprayed him as he lay dying. Officer Ashby was arrested on second degree murder charges in November, although the warrant was sealed so it remains unknown why the police officer showed up at the home in the first place. The Denver Post found that Ashby had been accused of misconduct several times before, and that a complaint against him about excessive use of force was filed just days before the fatal shooting. Ashby is the first cop in Colorado in more than 20 years to face a murder charge.

Joseph Jennings

Joseph Jennings
family photo

On August 23, police in Ottawa, Kansas, shot 18-year-old Joseph Jennings 16 times in the parking lot of a supply store after interpreting a motion the unarmed teen had made as reaching for a gun. Cops had previously prevented Jennings' father from tackling his apparently distraught son to the ground. His parents also say police had dealt with the teen, who had been suicidal, a few days before, and that he had just left the hospital a few hours earlier. Cops said they were responding to a call about a possible armed man and did what they were trained to do. "They reacted based upon the training that they've been given from the academy," the police chief said. "We were thankful that no officer was injured from protecting themselves from risk of great bodily harm."

Samantha Ramsey

Samantha Ramsey
family photo

On April 26, 19-year-old Samantha Ramsey was shot and killed by police in Boone County, Kentucky, as she was driving away from a party cops were breaking up. The shooting was caught on dash cam, appearing to show Deputy Tyler Brockman approaching Ramsey's car from the side. The two passengers in her car survived to testify how they had no idea Brockman was addressing them before they saw him jump on the hood of their car and shoot. None of that, however, was enough to convince a grand jury of a crime. The grand jury decided to believe Brockman's account of events, which hinged on his claim that he feared for his life in the course of duties involving breaking up an underage drinking party.

Christopher Roupe

Christopher Roupe
family photo

On February 14, 19-year-old Christopher Roupe was shot once in the chest by Officer Beth Gatny of the Euharlee, Georgia, police department after Roupe opened the door to his mobile home holding a Wii controller, according to family members and witnesses. Gatny arrived at the home to serve a probation warrant on Roupe's father, and said she saw Roupe holding a gun. She had previously been fired from another Georgia police department for, among other things, shooting at an unarmed suspect. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation found that Roupe and his siblings were playing with toy guns earlier in the day. In April, a grand jury found Gatny's use of force was "unauthorized," but in July another grand jury declined to indict her.

Tamir Rice

Tamir Rice
family photo

On November 22, police shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was playing with an airsoft gun in a Cleveland park. Cops were responding to a 911 call about someone at the park with a gun described as most likely fake. The police initially said they ordered the boy to put his hands up and were forced to shoot when he reached for the toy gun instead. However, video of the incident, from a nearby surveillance camera, appears to show the police officer shooting Rice before the officer even had a chance to fully exit his patrol car. The president of the Cleveland Police Union insists "officer perception" counts most and that therefore "legally this is going to come down to a justified shooting." Rice's death was ruled a homicide earlier this month and other investigations continue.

Parminder Shergill

Parminder Shergill
family photo

On January 25, police in Lodi, California, shot and killed Parminder Shergill, a Gulf War veteran his family said was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Police say Shergill lunged at them with a knife when they shot at him at least 14 times. One eyewitness told the Lodi News-Sentinel that while Shergill did not drop the knife as ordered, neither did he lunge when he was shot. In February, the police chief said a team comprised of representatives from his department, the district attorney's office, and the California Department of Justice would be investigating for up to a year and that no other information would be made available until that process was complete. But the family filed a lawsuit in April that led to the release of some information. For example, the police officers who shot and killed Shergill said they feared for their lives, knowing from the family, which called 911, that Shergill had earlier screamed at and pushed his mother. The officers also said they knew they were looking for a mentally-ill veteran and feared his training.

Dillon Taylor

Dillon Taylor
family photo

On August 11, police in Salt Lake City, Utah, shot and killed 20-year-old Dillon Taylor, believing the man was about to pull a gun out of his waistband as he was walking away from the officer while facing him. Police say they were responding to a 911 call about a group of men flashing a handgun and that Taylor fit the description. They released body cam footage of the shooting only after ruling that it was justified. After shooting Taylor, police handcuffed him as he bled out. He died while awaiting medical assistance. A reporter for the Salt Lake Tribune found that Utah residents are more likely to be killed by cops than by gang members, drug dealers, or abusive parents. Only abusive spouses pose a greater risk to state residents.

NEXT: Even the Supreme Court's Super-Elastic Commerce Clause Cannot Force States to Ban Marijuana

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  1. So more people died in bathtub accidents last year than from questionable police deadly force. Where are the die-ins at Bed Bath and Beyond?

    1. OTOH, I haven’t seen 8,000 bathtubs from all over North America gather to escort a fallen American Standard to its final rusting* place.


    2. When bathtubs start choking people to death and tossing flashbang grenades into playpens, I’ll start one.

    3. There were 328 homicides in NYC last year; only two of those involved the police department having a parade.

      This was the lowest number since 1963.

      Meanwhile NYC police shot 105 people this year (could not find out how many resulted in death).

      I leave it to you to come up with your own conclusions.

      1. Guns shouldn’t be used to defend oneself Bobarian?

        1. Hmmm…are you advocating shooting more police officers? What are you, a terrorist or something?

          1. Sort of clever, but what are cops supposed to do when confronted with arresting someone who is armed with a gun.

      2. I don’t draw conclusions from apple-orange comparisons (shootings vs. killings).

        1. I wouldn’t expect you to, it’s quite obvious that you’ve already reached your conclusions prior to now.

        2. Like comparing bathtub drownings to police shootings? Like those sorts of apples-oranges comparisons?

    4. Piso… come on man. White privilege had nothing to do with those bathtub deaths.

      1. White privilege was definitely why Samantha Ramsey and Christopher Roupe were killed.

    5. Of course, bathtubs vastly outnumber police officers, and this list isn’t comprehensive.

      1. The list is also not of unjustified killings, it’s a list of “questionable” ones. So basically Krayewski’s count is worthless.

        1. Since it is pretty much impossible for a police shooting to be ruled unjustified, this is the best we can do. Fortunately, he provides the rationale for listing each case.

          1. Weak. Krayewski could call any police shooting he wants unjustified.

            He just doesn’t want to have to back that claim up so he weasels out with “questionable”.

            1. And the police, by fiat, can pretty much call any shooting justified.

              1. Of course, and you don’t have to listen to them. Ain’t freedom wonderful?

    6. Maybe we could have a bathe-in.

    7. Agreed – the police do a very difficult and dangerous job- one that most of us would never want. Granted there are problems with the police – most glaringly is the use of the police as a revenue generating force.
      The biggest problem is not the police themselves, it is the politicians and government officials that use them in an unconstitutional manner. Get rid of the unconstitutional laws and the police will not have to enforce them.

      1. The problem is both,
        Too many cops, too many “laws” theyre all going after the easiest prey like any predators do. thats the problem with police forces the size of occupying armies, not enough actual crime to keep them all employed.
        add to that the fact that they willfully hire the least qualified drop-outs they can scrape together that can pass a piss test, then they give them guns and tell them they’re the “thin blue line” and tell them to aggressively enforce the “laws”

  2. So, Ed, you are not content with the Friday Nut-Punch and have to escalate to the Friday Beat-Down?

    1. So the three of us were in the Philippines making a movie…

      What movie?

      12 kicks to the Nuts, Part Three


  3. Twelve times? Shit, that’s like a plague of police abuse. Do away with cops forever! Forward we go into a cop free world!

    1. #alllivesbutthosetwelvematter

      1. Kray Kray and Reason don’t control how far the pendulum swings.

      2. Do I even want to know what a butt hose is?

    2. Agreed – compared to how many murders and assaults by private citizens.
      I think that there is the biggest problem. Like Giuliani said, the biggest problem in the black community is not the police, it is violence by other blacks.

    3. before 1830 there were no police
      we got along just fine
      in fact most human history was without governments, only us civilized folk get together to oppress and murder on colossal scales. you know cuz progress

  4. my co-worker’s step-mother makes $82 /hour on the laptop . She has been fired from work for ten months but last month her pay was $13096 just working on the laptop for a few hours. check here……..

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  6. OT from ThoughtPrevention: So close and yet so far:


    As a result of what the New York Post is calling a “virtual work stoppage,” tickets and summonses for minor offenses have plummeted by 94 percent and overall arrests have fallen 66 percent. Theoretically, the practice will strain police budgets, which rely on fines from tickets to make-up for funding shortfalls. ?

    Although it’s not the intended goal of the work stoppage, the decline in arrests could save New Yorkers money. The city residents who are normally hit with tickets for minor violations tend to be low income individuals who are forced to pay up a hefty portion of their paychecks.

    1. thinkprogress would never apply this kind of logic to say climate change, taxes, or Michelle Obama’s lunch program.

  7. Where did these two new copsucking trolls come from?

    1. Wet floor is Tulpa. Lyle shows up to advocate hanging Snowden and bombing brown people from time to time.

      1. Snowden is actually a paid asset of either authoritarian Russia or authoritarian China.

        He’s most definitely a fool, either way.

        … and you can’t not bomb “brown” people if we are going to be bombing al Qaeda and the Islamic State. No?

          1. So… Lyle is Tulpa, too?

          2. Jordan,

            Why is Snowden still in authoritarian Russia?

            1. …because he doesn’t want to go to jail, obviously…

              1. So he doesn’t want to go to jail, but will take Russia’s comfort money and live in authoritarian Russia all for the great cause of personal liberty?

                Haha… what a guy. Totally brilliant and such the hero.

                1. Why would anyone be stupid enough to stay put and go to prison? Other than you, of course.

                  1. Haha… because apparently he is some kind of liberty loving saint who just happens to be living on the comfort money of authoritarian Russia.

                    Oh yeah… he is there because he just doesn’t want to go to prison.

                    1. And Daniel Ellsburg didn’t include his name when the pentagon papers were being published. That doesn’t make him against liberty and holding the USA gocernment accountable.

                      The fact that Snowden didn’t go to Russia until his persecution began tells me that it was a lesser of two evils deal.

                    2. He is in Russia living off Russian comfort money. How does this make Snowden for liberty again?

                    3. Uh, because he is more free there than here. It doesn’t make any larger statements regarding his position on liberty. We already he supports liberty by his previous actions.

                    4. Considering that

                      A.) he’s in Russia to begin with because the US State Department obstructed his attempt to leave Russia


                      B.) A bunch of US military/intelligence people recently told a reporter that they’d like to “forget the trial and just hang him” (or assassinate him “while he’s walking home from the grocery store”)


                      I don’t find this particular line of argument very interesting. If I was in his position, I’d be scared of more than just going to jail, and apparently for good reason. The particular place that he’s staying now doesn’t really say anything about his overall motives.

                    5. Slothrop,

                      I think it says a lot. Hopefully one day we will all know the truth of things.

                      He’s also in Russia because Snowden fled to Hong Kong and then was allowed in to Russia. If he were a man of principle he would come back to the United States post haste. In Russia, he lives at the behest of Vladimir Putin.

                    6. If the people he exposed were men and women of principle they’d turn themselves in for committing war crimes

                    7. Personally its too hard to tell the difference between US and Russia except the women are hotter there and i can understand a damn thing going on since the language sounds like a drunk eating broken glass.
                      standard of liberty is about equal and the standard of living isn’t too terrible comparably.

                    8. Can’t**

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  9. Crawford is the one I’m on the fence about. The video doesn’t show them shooting as soon as they entered. The cops move up the aisle and Crawford suddenly comes around the corner and surprises them.

    1. God I hate grainy surveillance videos. If they’re going to make the videos at all at least invest in some decent equipment or all it does is create more questions without answers. For example; what the hell was that first humanoid looking creature/automaton running up to Crawford directly after he fell ( the one who appears to be wearing huge black clown shorts with suspenders and size 27 black clown shoes ) ??

    2. To be honest, I hadn’t watched the video until a few minutes ago. And up until a few minutes ago I thought I had at least a vague idea what had happened with Crawford. Now after replaying the video four times I honestly have to admit I have no clue what actually happened. None at all.

      1. At the 1:30 mark (8:26:56:28 in the video) the cop with the rifle in the left frame seems to fire two shots at Crawford on the right frame. Crawford drops the air rifle immediately and seems to try to hide, then moves back to where the approaching cop can see him, but by that time the ‘weapon’ Crawford had is on the ground.

        No clue if Crawford heard the cops coming or if the one with the rifle just fired immediately.

      2. If you haven’t watched the video that is synched with the 911 call and police dispatch, you only have a fraction of the story. That caller made it seem like another Aurora Theater or Sandyhook was seconds from happening. The dispatchers didn’t exactly ask the most insightful questions, relaying only a grave analysis to the responding officers. The cops didn’t seem to notice no one was running out of the place in panic. The whole thing is a mess from the moment Crawford started swinging the airsoft around the store. Ultimately, the first cop in has been given a very strong impression that mass murder is (about to be) occurring, and acts accordingly. That was the root of the error, and a decent, innocent man died for it. Of course, when the next Aurora happens, exactly how many slow, deliberate questions do you want the cops to be asking?

        1. Of course, when the next Aurora happens, exactly how many slow, deliberate questions do you want the cops to be asking?

          Enough to ensure that the next Aurora shooting is actually happening, and it’s not just some guy carrying a toy.

          1. Of course, the answer may come in the form of a few gun shots that kill a few people.

            And, of course, it may come in a few words that save an innocent man.

            Comfy chair you Monday Morning Quarterbacks get issued?

            1. police are paid to get shot so that innocent citizens dont have to die cuz officer panic fire thought he saw a gun

    3. FWIW, the Crawford case just got weirder.

  10. So how many dogs did the cops shoot last year?

    1. If they really are being killed at a rate of 1 per 98 mins it comes out to over 8000 killed / year

  11. 12 times, at least. Self investigation by the same police department (or a ‘you do ours, we do yours’ arrangement) is always suspicious. There is simply too much to be gained by finding “no fault” with the officer.

    The IRS doesn’t trust me to audit my own tax returns, why should we trust the Tugaboo Police Department to audit killings by their own officers (whose misconduct that same PD is financially liable for)??? The incentive to drop evidence in the burn bag, step on it, or “color” the report are greater than human beings can consistently resist.

    1. Maybe they could hire Arthur Anderson to do the internal investigations…

  12. Should we be concerned about the cops with this workstoppage?
    Since statistically 27 cops were killed by criminals in 2013. However left to their own consciences 126 committed suicide (and figuring that some more were most likely nudged into being accidental death the number is possibly substantially higher.)

    So it as least 400% more dangerous for a cop to be off duty.
    Won’t someone please think of the cops?

  13. If thd author had bothered to read the grand jury testimony and other reports, perhaps he wouldn’t have reached the incredibly ignorant assertion that Michael Brown’s death was precipitated by a “jaywalking” incident. Anything to fit Reason’s scenario of American cops gone wild, apparently.

    1. Kray Kray is well known to propagandize without the use of facts.

    2. Agreed, they should have used Kelly Thomas instead

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  23. As opposed to how many times criminals used unnecessary deadly force? I see why that would deflate the author’s premise and was omitted from the discussion. We CAN control the police but we CAN”T control criminals…..or something.

  24. This headline is incredibly misleading and factually incorrect. There were tens of thousands of questionable uses of force by municipal police 2014. Thousands of people and pets were left dead by these acts of force. Where did the editor pluck the number 12 from?

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