55 Cops Involved in Fatal Shootings in 2015 Have Killed Before, WaPo Reports

In 1 out 8 reported police shootings this year, an officer had previously used deadly force.


Another day, another quantifiable reason we need a comprehensive national

Have You Seen Me Lately?

database documenting fatal shootings by police. 

Just yesterday, I wrote about the scores of people over the past five years who had been unarmed and/or shot in the back by Georgia police. Later in the day, the Washington Post released a report that shows at least 55 officers who had previously fired their weapons in fatal shootings were involved in fatal shootings this year. 

The number could actually be significantly higher, because of the 743 killings by police identified in the first 9 months of thus year, police agencies only gave the Post data relating to 367. The Post also notes, "Many departments withheld officers' names from the public or released only vague details, making it impossible to precisely determine how many officers have been involved in multiple shootings."

Though there has been a push for more than two decades to get the Department of Justice to demand data from local departments pertaining to shootings by police, agencies are still not required to maintain and submit such data. This has led to a number of journalistic outfits to step in where the government continues to be derelict in its duty, and create their own databases.

Geoffrey Alpert, a criminologist cited in the Post's article puts the current situation succinctly, "It's a national embarrassment. We don't even know how many times cops pull their triggers."

There are some reasonable explanations why certain officers are involved in multiple shootings. For example, being attached to a narcotics unit in a particularly violent neighborhood or assigned to a SWAT team could present more opportunities for deadly altercations.

But considering most police will never discharge their weapons while on duty in their entire career, the (admittedly flawed and incomplete) statistic of 1 in 8 officer-involved shootings this year involving repeat shooters is troubling and worthy of further examination. 

2015 represents the year when shootings by police began to be thoroughly examined and documented. Perhaps in 2016 the government will get in on the act of analyzing the use of deadly force by its agents of the law. 

NEXT: Wonderful Asset Forfeiture News: Justice Department Temporarily Halts "Equitable Sharing" Program

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Perhaps in 2016 the government will get in on the act of analyzing the use of deadly force by its agents of the law.

    This my breath, not being held.

    I almost prefer having the private sector monitor this – less incentive to fudge, hide, omit and delay.

    1. The problem with that is getting reliable info from the cops. The only reasons they share with DOJ are the incentive of federal grant money, and fear of prosecution. Private sector actors have no more power over them than do you or I.

      1. I’m all for body cameras on cops, I totally support it. The problem is, what good are these cameras when cops get away with murders despite their actions being caught on film?

        How many senseless killings were committed by cops in 2015 and how many of them were convicted and sentenced?

        You would think that by the time most people have seen this bullshit that something would be done. The problem is 2 fold. First of all, most people won’t see it because they get their news from local media and Foxnews, and they either don’t report on this at all, or they water it down. 2nd of all, even when people do see it, they don’t care. They just think that either the person must have been doing something wrong or that surely it can’t be true because cops are heroes. They think it will never happen to them because they’re good law abiding citizens, never mind that a lot of the people killed by cops weren’t doing anything wrong either and have no criminal history.

        1. Just the other day I posted a story about a cop who, while shooting someone’s dog, slipped on the ice and killed the owner instead. All caught on body cam, and he’s back on duty. I assume that had either of us done the same thing that no charges would be filed. Right? Right?

          1. can you repost? I’d like to see it.

      2. Feds collect, private sector has access?

    2. I almost prefer having the private sector monitor this

      It’s like you’ve never even seen Robocop, man.

    3. I almost prefer having the private sector monitor this – less incentive to fudge, hide, omit and delay.

      also less wasteful

    4. your premise doesn’t make any sense to me. why do you assume private sector cops would have LESS incentive to “fudge, hide, omit, and delay”? They would have MORE incentive to do these things.

      For-profit policing has been tried. In fact, it is sort of in play today, with civil asset forfeiture. For-profit “justice” is a disaster, because of obvious conflicts of interest.

      1. Civil asset forfeiture is not “for-profit policing”, it’s “rent-collecting policing”.

        Profit != Rent

        Think of it like this: the first day the mafia shows up and offers to protect you from the other gangs, that’s profit. A decade later when they’ve driven out the other gangs and they show up to “protect” you from their own goons, that’s rent.

        Furthermore, wages and salaries paid from tax monies are no less rent if little of value is offered in return. The degree to which a department and officer’s income is profit versus rent is variable from department to department and officer to officer.

        Moreover, to suggest conflict of interest is minimized by the government running an institution is frankly bizarre. If someone who must fight to keep his paycheck is prone to conflict of interest, then how can someone whose paycheck is practically guaranteed be immune to it? The former, at least, has some incentive to keep his behavior in check.

  2. And in Chicago Police news: http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago…..-districts

    Sounds good, eh?

    Well… http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago…..cord-audio

  3. The problem is, is that the nature of the job itself is inevitably going to attract some violent sociopaths. Why wouldn’t that type of person be attracted to a job where you get to carry a gun, have complete authority over everyone who is not a cop, and will never be held accountable for any act of senseless violence you decide to engage in?

    I don’t care how many good cops there are, the fact that these ‘good cops’ will not hold the bad cops accountable at all, and in fact will lie and stick up for them makes it a moot point. So don’t talk to me about all the good cops, I don’t give a fuck about them. As someone once said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

    1. As someone once said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

      The difference here is that cops have a duty to do something. The fact that all the so-called good cops do about bad cops is cover for them is proof that good cops don’t exist. There are criminal cops and conspirator cops, but there are no good cops.

      1. The difference here is that cops have a duty to do something.

        Not according to SCOTUS.

        1. They don’t have a duty to prevent crime, but they do have a duty to do something when they see a crime being committed. Even by a cop. And by something I don’t mean spend a couple hours getting your story straight while canvassing the area for any surveillance cameras that could contradict your lies.

    1. Maybe we can get a three strikes rule?

      1. The odds that a peace officer would legitimately need to kill even once is so low that it seems entirely reasonable that after a second such incident, regardless of circumstances, the officer should be forced to retire or resign.

        1. They should be reassigned or fired after the first shot. Just to be sure. Let them compete for unarmed roles, but no more guns. Just in case.

          If their life is in danger, they won’t be worried about their jobs. They should be willing to give up the job in order to save their own lives.

          Let them petition for reinstatement the same way felons beg to get their voting rights restored. In fact, make it the same system felons use to get their guns back.

          Anyone ever fired from a law enforcement role should be banned for life.

    2. Recidivist…not a pretty word, is it?

  4. Why the fuck are those cops wearing camo? What exactly do they think it’s goingto do on the street of a town?

    1. Because they want to play army guy. It’s easy and fun to play army guy when the enemy isn’t shooting back, mostly because they aren’t even armed.

      1. It’s fucking sickening.

        1. I am tempted to give them a card with 1-800-550-ARMY on it. “Why don’t you join up, son?”

          1. Sounds like a good way to get beaten or killed for failure to show sufficient respect.

            1. Oh no – I’d make sure they thought I was praising their tacticoolness and wanting them to defend us…overseas.

              1. They really don’t want to be in a situation where real hostiles are shooting back at them, and they are held to ROE. Much safer to shoot at unarmed Americans at home.

          2. They can’t pass the physical fitness standards.

            1. That why they have to shoot people in the back. They know half the cops couldn’t catch anyone under 80.
              Shoot a few of them, and they may be less likely to run and get shot in the back.

              It’s for the enemies safety.

      2. They’ll tell you straight up that their goal is to instill terror in people. What do you call people who intentionally instill terror in people?

        1. SJWs?

      3. Many cops have served, or are serving in the reserves. Note that one of the six Air Force dudes killed in Afghanistan recently was a NYC detective in his day job.

        1. And when they serve in the military, they are answerable to the UCMJ, Posse Comitatus, Rules of Engagement, and other duties and limitations.

          When they carry on in a paramilitary manner domestically, they aren’t answerable to any of those things, and moreover they enjoy the special privileges of laws like LEOPA and LEOBOR.

  5. ater in the day, the Washington Post released a report that shows at least 55 officers who had previously fired their weapons in fatal shootings were involved in fatal shootings this year.

    Look, in all the excitement, they lost count as to whether they fired 6 shots or only 5.

    And they suck at counting to begin with.

  6. OT: From Bernie’s OP-ed in the NYT about the Fed and financial regulation:

    “If I were elected president, the foxes would no longer guard the henhouse. To ensure the safety and soundness of our banking system, we need to fundamentally restructure the Fed’s governance system to eliminate conflicts of interest. Board members should be nominated by the president and chosen by the Senate. Banking industry executives must no longer be allowed to serve on the Fed’s boards and to handpick its members and staff. Board positions should instead include representatives from all walks of life ? including labor, consumers, homeowners, urban residents, farmers and small businesses.”

    Needless to say, I am not a very big fan of the Fed and the way it operates, but this is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard. People who have no experience in banking, finance, or economics should not be making decisions for the nation’s central bank (SLD aside) for obvious reasons.

    1. Link to the OP-ed


    2. we need to fundamentally restructure the Fed’s governance system to eliminate conflicts of interest

      I guess we need to restructure Congress and pretty much the entire fedgov then. My preferred method of restructure involves mulching devices.

      Also, that word, fundamentally, I don’t like it. I heard that used once before and it didn’t turn out too well.

    3. Libertarians have always pointed out the dangers of regulatory capture. Nice of Bernie to notice.

      As Calidissident points out, the people who have the knowledge of the system are the only ones competent to manage it.

      Bernie’s point remains, however: Because these people are insiders, they are going to manipulate the regulations for the benefit of themselves and their friends.

      1. I don’t disagree with that at all, and I think if the Fed isn’t abolished that it could obviously use very major reform, but appointing people with no experience or competence to run a central bank is about the worst way you can go about it. As bad as the Fed is, contemporary and historical examples of monetary policy in other countries shows that it could be a lot, lot worse. We luckily are not Argentina, Venezuela, Weimar Germany, Zimbabwe, etc. Yet. If Bernie has his way we might be headed there.

        1. The dollar has lost over 90% of its value over the last century. We’re on the slow-track to hyperinflation.

          1. Maybe, or we might just continue at this pace forever. I’m not defending that stat, but that’s really not that bad relatively speaking. With truly atrociously bad monetary policy, money can lose over 90% of its value in a single year or less.

    4. This is equally or even as bad as anything Trump says.

      But notice no outrage.

      Mostly because to the average person who is economically illiterate this makes ‘sense’.

      It doesn’t.

      It’s irrational.

      1. It may be equally stupid, but it’s not equally offensive. And that’s what generates outrage. Very few people know anything about monetary policy or care about it.

        1. Regulatory capture, and the need to find qualified people who will operate in public’s best interest is a very difficult problem.
          I have a degree in nuclear engineering, but haven’t worked in the field for 30 years, so I wouldn’t field qualified to regulate the nuclear industry.

          However, I’ve worked in oil drilling industry at many levels, and I have good feel for oil rig safety but would be unlikely to last a week after I shut down a rig for having 120 VAC on rig floor, which used to be very common. My first job included putting a cheap limit switch running 120 only 10 feet under the rig floor, exactly where gas will collect if they have well control problems. I redesigned system to use sealed magnetic switches and 12 volt loop, and nearly got fired for wasting time to fix a non-problem because any accident would destroy the evidence.

          Years before the BP, I pointed out the problem with drill pipes having connection joints too thick to be cut by Blow out preventers (BOP). I was told that 20 ft drill pipe only had 1 foot of connection joints, so 95% of the time it’s not a problem.
          This was a major factor in BP accident.

    5. that doesn’t eliminate conflicts of interest, it just changes the rent seekers.

      1. Good point.

        Though Bernie’s rent seekers are more likely to destroy the entire banking system in the process of “making the banksters answer to the peepul”.

  7. Recidivism.

  8. The sickest part of this is that the cops who have actually killed people are the envy of their department. Many cops spend every shift looking for an excuse to get away with killing someone, and are disappointed when the opportunity never presents itself. I’ve listened to drunk cops practically weep over this (and been terrified of them ever since).

  9. An attorney I know worked in civil legislation concerning lawsuits against the police for police brutality, excessive force, etc. (my layman’s terms).

    He noted that the same cops tended to be the subject of lawsuits over and over.

    It seems clear that the police cannot “police” themselves, and so there needs to be an external forcing function. Body cams are a good start, but there are a of other things that need to happen.

    1. Two things need to happen:

      1. Immunity needs to be drastically scaled back if not outright eliminated; this applies to the “qualified” immunity of cops as well as the absolute immunity of judges and prosecutors
      2. All public-sector unions should be decertified, and the government will no longer recognize or negotiate with any “collective bargaining unit” ever again

      As an intermediate and perhaps motivating step, all settlements for abusive action by government agents should be paid out of salaries and pensions, and not the general fund.

    2. He noted that the same cops tended to be the subject of lawsuits over and over.

      Those cops are known as hard-asses by the other cops, and the complaints against them are the subject of jokes. With the laughs being on the victims of course, not the criminal cops.

      As far as I’m concerned, there are two kinds of cops: criminals and accomplices.

  10. WAR ON COPS.

    That has to be the line of 2015.

    1. If there is a war on COPs, why do we have to keep supplying our enemies with more firepower?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.