Politics & Policy

The Myth of Wanton Police Shootings Collapses under the Weight of Facts

(Ntsmedia/Dreamstime)

In a project titled “The Counted,” the Guardian is tracking killings by police in the United States and has compiled a comprehensive list for the year 2015. The tracker was motivated by much-discussed but poorly founded concern about excessive use of police force particularly against blacks. In December, police killed 92 people — 21 blacks, 40 whites, 17 Hispanics/Latinos, five Asians/Pacific Islanders, and nine of unknown race. Fourteen were unarmed, including five blacks. Those who were unarmed reportedly still posed other types of threats to officers. These threats included physical violence and ramming officers with a vehicle. 

Most of these reports are based largely on the accounts of eyewitnesses and the officers involved and so might not include all relevant details, such as results from ongoing police investigations. But the available facts fail to support the claim, made most prominently by the movement Black Lives Matter, that police systematically target unarmed black men. Of note among those who were killed is, however, the prevalence of mental illnessThe basic facts of each case in the month of December are summarized below; links to coverage of the incidents in local media are also provided.

1. John Gonzalez — December 1, California

Shot after pointing a gun at officers.

This man allegedly pointed a gun at Los Angeles County sheriff deputies. The officers then shot and killed Gonzalez, who, they said, is a gang member. They arrested his companion, also said to be a gang member, on suspicion of gun possession and a probation violation. Investigators recovered two loaded guns from the scene.

Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times

2. Joshua Jozefowicz — December 1, Maine

Shot during a gunfire exchange with an officer.

Bangor police shot and killed Jozefowicz during a gunfire exchange after he tried to flee their traffic stop. Bangor chief of police Mark Hathaway confirmed that Jozefowicz had a loaded gun that he shot during the chase. Jozefowicz was a convicted felon.

Bangor Daily News

Portland Press Herald

 

3. Allen Pacheco — December 2, Texas

Shot while apparently trying to retrieve his gun after an officer’s nonlethal method to subdue him failed.

A trooper from the Texas Department of Public Safety pulled Pacheco over for a broken tail light and began questioning him. After learning that he was a convicted felon with a gun in his car, the trooper tried to detain Pacheco and a struggle ensued. The trooper’s Taser didn’t subdue Pacheco, so the trooper shot and killed him as he tried to get back into his car.

My San Antonio

KSAT-TV

 

4. Florencio Lucero — December 2, New Mexico

Shot after threatening officers with a gun.

Lucero was armed with a gun after allegedly shooting his girlfriend. New Mexico officers responded to a call about domestic violence and arrived on the scene in the aftermath. The officers said they shot Lucero after he threatened them with his gun.

Deming Headlight

 

5. Mario Woods — December 2, California

Shot after threatening officers with a knife and after a nonlethal method to subdue him failed.

San Francisco police shot this suspected stabber when he failed to obey commands to drop his knife. They first shot him with two rounds of nonlethal beanbags before shooting and killing him. A video of the scene shows Woods moving toward the officers with his knife.

San Francisco Chronicle

CBS San Francisco

6. Phillip Munoz — December 2, Colorado

Shot in gunfire exchange with an officer.

Munoz, a felon wanted for a shooting and considered armed and dangerous, was shot and killed by a Denver police SWAT officer. The officer was pursuing Munoz in a car when Munoz hit a gas meter and stopped. The two exchanged gunfire, leaving Munoz dead and the officer injured.

9NEWS Denver

Denver Post

7. Syed Farook

8. Tashfeen Malik — December 2, California

Both shot in gunfight with officers.

These two are the ISIS-inspired husband-and-wife terrorist team who killed 14 people and wounded 20 in a mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif. Following the shooting, they died in a gun battle with the police after a car chase.

 

9. Ivan Krstic — December 3, Arizona

Shot after threatening officers with a steel pole and their nonlethal method to subdue him failed.

A resident of a gated community in Mesa, Ariz., called the police after observing Krstic slamming a three-foot steel pole into the ground and talking wildly. When Krstic ignored the officers’ command to drop the pole, they shot him with a Taser but were unable to subdue him. Krstic retrieved the pole and moved toward the officers when one shot him with a pistol. Krstic later died in a hospital of his injuries.

Arizona Republic

 

10. Jason Brady — December 3, Ohio

Accidentally shot by an off-duty officer who was subsequently indicted and fired.

Former Pike County deputy Joel Jenkins was indicted on counts of involuntary manslaughter and reckless homicide for accidentally shooting Jason Brady. Jenkins shot Brady while off duty and allegedly drinking, inadvertently firing a gun when showing it to his neighbor. After being put on administrative leave, Jenkins was eventually fired for insubordination.

Guardian

Columbus Dispatch

 

11. Neil Stretesky — December 3, Nebraska

Shot after pointing a gun at officers and refusing to drop it.

Deuel County deputies shot and killed Stretesky, who had been charged with attempted first-degree murder. The deputies were trying to serve warrants on him. He pointed a rifle at them, and one deputy warned Stretesky that he would be shot if he did not drop the rifle. Stretesky pointed his rifle a second time before complying and was shot. It’s not clear whether the time lapse between his rifle drop and his being shot was short enough that the deputies could be exonerated.

Omaha World-Herald

 

12. Shun Ma — December 3, Washington

Died in custody, of injuries sustained in a struggle with officers.

Seattle police arrested the mentally ill Ma on suspicion of threatening to kill his brother. Ma sustained several injuries while struggling with the arresting officers. The King County medical examiner’s office ruled that Ma died from a blood clot resulting from one of his injuries.

Seattle Times

 

13. Colten Marcellus — December 5, Texas

Shot after firing at officers.

An Irving police spokesman said officers fatally shot Marcellus (pictured), who was suspected in a residence invasion, after he began firing at them. Officers said they were setting up a perimeter around the residence when Marcellus and two other suspected robbers escaped out the back door. Marcellus then began shooting, and an officer killed him with return fire.

Dallas Morning News

 

14. David Winesett — December 5, Florida

Shot after escaping a halfway house and refusing to drop a razor.

Winesett, a convicted bank robber of questionable mental health, escaped his halfway house in Little Havana. He armed himself with a straight-edge razor from a barber shop and confronted Miami Beach police outside. A cell-phone video shows the altercation: The police aim their guns, Winesett does not drop the razor or comply, and he is shot twice in the chest.

Guardian

Miami Herald

15. Juan Perez — December 5, California

Shot in gunfire exchange with officers.

Perez was fatally shot in a gunfire exchange with Riverside County police. Officers were responding to reports of a stolen golf cart when, they said, they found Perez, the suspected thief, armed with a gun, and the gunfight began.

Desert Sun

KESQ-TV

16. Michael Funk — December 5, Wisconsin

Shot after refusing to drop his gun at the scene of a hostage situation.

In a Neenah hostage situation, police shot one of the hostages (Funk) rather than the suspect, allegedly by mistake. Police attempts to enter the building were met with gunfire. Police said Funk left the building carrying a gun that he refused to drop, so they shot him. The Justice Department is investigating the situation.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Northwestern

 

17. Sheilah Huck — December 5, Missouri

Shot after firing at officers.

Huck was acting irrationally outside her St. Louis home before shooting a female neighbor. Police were called and Huck barricaded herself inside her house. The officers unsuccessfully tried to contact Huck before entering her. On their entry, Huck opened fire and died in the officers’ return fire.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

KMOV-TV

 

18. John Britton — December 6, Wyoming

Shot after lunging at officers with a knife.

Albany County sheriff’s deputies fatally shot Britton at a ski resort where he allegedly lunged at them with a knife. Deputies arrived at the resort in response to a report of a suicidal man. They said they found Britton in his truck, which he initially refused to exit, before eventually exiting and lunging with the knife.

Casper Star-Tribune

19. Raymond Azevedo — December 6, Washington

Shot after firing at officers.

Azevedo was a carjacking suspect with a criminal history. He was involved in a police chase that ended in a shootout. He fired at the police before he was killed by officer fire.

Seattle Times

20. Derek Stokes — December 8, Ohio

Shot after firing at officers.

Two Cleveland Metroparks rangers were taking Stokes to the Justice Center for booking when officials said he drew a gun and attempted escape. He shot at the rangers and died in their return fire. Stokes had a violent criminal record and was wanted on an aggravated-burglary charge.

Plain Dealer

WEWS NewsChannel5

21. Miguel Espinal — December 8, New York

Shot in an alteracation with an officer.

An NYPD officer fatally shot Espinal after a car chase that ended with a foot pursuit and a confrontation in Yonkers, officials said. Officers saw Espinal’s car driving erratically and started following him. When they tried to pull him over, he fled at high speed and the chase began. Eventually Espinal crashed into a median, jumped out of the car, and fled on foot into the woods, where police shot him during an altercation. The officers did not know at the time whether Espinal, a black male, was armed, but no weapon has been found in the subsequent investigation.

New York Times

CBS New York

22. Nicholas Gilbert — December 8, Missouri

Died after hitting his head in a struggle with officers in a jail cell.

St. Louis police took Gilbert into custody after finding him in a condemned building. He was then brought to a holding cell. Officials said he was on probation for a drug conviction, and warrants were out for his arrest on drug and traffic charges. A clerk monitoring the cell caught Gilbert trying to hang himself with his sweatpants. Officers attempted to stop him, and in the struggle he hit his head on a concrete bench inside the cell and died from the trauma. Gilbert’s mother has disputed the police version of the story, but the medical examiner said his injuries were consistent with it.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

KMOV-TV

23. Christopher Higdon – December 9, Kentucky

Shot after refusing to drop his gun.

Two officers from the Grayson County sheriff’s department responded to a domestic dispute involving a firearm. When they arrived, they met Higdon holding a gun in the driveway. He refused to drop his weapon, and one officer fatally shot him.

WLKY-TV

24. Dimitrie Penny — December 9, Florida

Shot during a gunfight in a bar.

Penny (pictured), newly released from prison, opened fire in a crowded Tallahassee bar during a fight with several other people. He was sentenced to five years in prison for violating probation after being convicted in 2008 of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a concealed weapon, offenses for which he served three years. One of the officers who arrived on the scene shot Penny in the confrontation.

Tallahassee Democrat

25. Sammy Echols Jr. — December 9, Oklahoma

Shot after pointing a gun at an officer.

Echols allegedly barricaded himself inside his residence while making suicidal statements. Sportsmen Acres police arrived outside his residence. Echols eventually exited carrying a rifle. One officer told him to put it down, and Echols initially complied but moments later picked it up again and pointed it at the officer, who then shot him.

Tulsa World

 

26. Charles Rosemond Sr. — December 10, South Carolina

Shot after firing at officers.

A Greenville County sheriff’s deputy fatally shot Rosemond in the leg during a confrontation in his apartment. Two deputies were responding to a woman’s call describing a possible robbery. Sounds of scuffle and a gunshot next door in Rosemond’s residence were heard. The deputies had to force entry into the apartment and were greeted by Rosemond pointing a gun at them. Rosemond shot one deputy non-fatally in the head before being shot himself.

Greenville News

FOX Carolina 21

27. Jason Bryant — December 10, Indiana

Shot after waving a gun at officers.

Indianapolis police chased Bryant, who was driving a stolen truck, until he stopped, left the vehicle, and disappeared into his residence. They said that they shot Bryant, fatally, after he waved a gun when they entered his residence with a search warrant.

Indianapolis Star

28. Thomas Gendreau Jr. — December 10, California

Shot while continuing to stab his wife after officers arrived.

Gendreau’s wife called 911 to report that her husband was attacking her. Marina police arrived to find that Gendreau had stabbed his wife and was continuing to stab her despite their presence. One officer then fatally shot Gendreau to save the woman.

Salinas Californian

KSBW-TV

29. Unknown — December 10, California

Shot after pointing a gun at an officer and refusing to drop it.

Hemet officers saw an agitated man in a car parked in a strip-mall lot. The police approached him and asked for ID. He cooperated at first but then allegedly pointed a handgun at the officers. A parolee, he was given several commands to drop the gun, but he failed to comply, and an officer shot him.

NBC Los Angeles

Southern California Public Radio

30. Steven Wickert — December 11, Arizona

Shot while physically attacking an officer.

Pima County sheriff’s deputies responded to reports of a disturbance at a golf resort. Wickert physically attacked a deputy who had asked him about the disturbance, and the officer shot him in the altercation.

Arizona Daily Star

 

31. Andrew Todd — December 12, Pennsylvania

Shot after pointing a gun at officers and refusing to drop it.

Todd was in a Walmart carrying two guns and a machete and was threatening customers. Monroe County police arrived and repeatedly ordered him to drop his weapon, but he refused and continued pointing a gun at them, officials said. Police then shot him fatally in the chest.

Guardian

32. Christopher Goodlow — December 12, Indiana

Shot after refusing to drop a knife and after a nonlethal method to subdue him failed.

Indianapolis police unsuccessfully used verbal commands and a Taser to try to subdue Goodlow before fatally shooting him, a police spokesman said. He had been approaching officers with a knife. Officers had responded to a call about the suicidal Goodlow’s carrying a “butcher knife.”

Indianapolis Star

 

33. Javario Eagle — December 12, Tennessee

Shot after threatening officers and a child with a gun and a knife.

Hamilton County police and SWAT officers learned that a man may have been armed and endangering a small child. They arrived at a house, which Eagle (pictured) exited several times, carrying a handgun and a knife. At his last exit, he brought the weapons and the child. Police encouraged the child to come to them, and one officer placed himself between the child and Eagle. Then Eagle reportedly moved aggressively toward the officer and the child, and multiple officers fatally shot him.

Chattanooga Times Free Press

34. Jonathan Wardlow — December 12, Oklahoma

Shot after stealing an officer’s Taser and pointing it at him.

A Healdton officer responded to a report of a domestic disturbance at a residence, where he found Wardlow behaving erratically. Wardlow tried to hit the officer, who pulled out his Taser and ordered him to get on the ground. Wardlow obeyed, and the officer holstered the Taser and attempted to handcuff him. Then Wardlow got on top of the officer, stole the Taser, and pointed it at him. The officer grabbed his gun and fatally shot Wardlow.

KOCO-TV

 

35. Nicholas Robertson — December 12, California

Shot after refusing to drop his gun.

Armed with a gun, Robertson walked into traffic as a nearby security camera recorded the events that were about to unfold. Two people ran when they saw him; he was shouting angrily, seemingly at no one in particular. Two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies pulled up to Robertson, left their cars, and drew their guns. Robertson began walking away, and the deputies moved closer, ordering him to drop his gun. Then both deputies opened fire — a decision that drew criticism from people who watched security-camera footage, despite the subsequent release of more footage and stills showing Robertson grasping a gun as he crawled away after being fatally shot. The incident is still under investigation.

Los Angeles Times

 

36. Roy Carreon — December 12, California

Shot after refusing to drop a knife he was using to threaten a woman.

Carreon was allegedly holding a woman at knifepoint when a San Bernardino officer shot him. He had reportedly gotten into an argument with a neighbor, who saw him run with a knife into a residence where the man’s wife and children were staying. The neighbor called the police. The officer arrived on the scene and shot the man after he refused to comply with the officer’s orders.

San Bernardino Sun

37. Unknown — December 12, Colorado

Shot while stabbing a woman and refusing to put his hands up.

A suspect stabbed two women, one believed to be his girlfriend. The latter’s mother saw the suspect attacking her daughter and called 911. The suspect was still attacking the daughter when the Aurora police arrived and order him to put his hands up. He refused, and an officer fatally shot him.

Denver Post

KMGH-TV

38. Enrique Gonzalez — December 13, Colorado

Shot after firing at an officer.

Mountain View police pulled Gonzalez over for a traffic stop and said he exited his vehicle with a shotgun. One officer fired at him several times. After calling over his radio that Gonzalez had shot at him, the officer fatally shot him.

Denver Post

9NEWS Denver

39. Feagaiga Leiataua — December 13, Washington

Shot after refusing to drop a knife he was using to threaten a girl.

Leiataua was apparently using his three-year-old daughter to shield himself from Thurston County sheriff’s deputies when they arrived at his house in response to a report of a stabbing. He appeared to be holding a knife to the little girl and had taken her hostage after stabbing his cousin. Leiataua had barricaded himself inside his bedroom with his daughter, and when the police arrived, they ordered him to drop the knife and let the little girl go. He failed to comply, and a SWAT marksman fatally shot him to protect the girl.

Seattle Times

KOMO

40. Ryan McMillan — December 13, Texas

Shot after threatening an officer with an ax.

A University of North Texas officer fatally shot McMillan (pictured), a UNT student, when McMillan moved toward him with an ax, officials said. Police had responded to a report of someone smashing car windows. One eyewitness said McMillan tried to start a fight with two other people before shots were heard, and one officer saw him smash a window.

Dallas Morning News

WFAA-TV

41. Shirley Weis — December 13, Texas

Shot after pointing a gun at officers.

Arlington police responded to a suicide call from Weis’s husband. He was worried that she might be trying to harm herself. He said that one of his handguns was missing. Shirley Weis wouldn’t come to the front door to talk to the police. About 30 minutes later, she went to the garage in back, got in her car, and drove toward the front of the house, where officers tried to approach her. She then pointed a handgun at them, and two officers fired, killing her.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Dallas Morning News

42. Brenda Kimberling — December 14, Nevada

Shot after pointing a gun at an officer.

Kimberling attempted suicide by overdosing on pills. Someone she knew watched the attempt on video and called the Las Vegas police. They arrived at Kimberling’s house and tried unsuccessfully to make contact with her, so they left. Five hours later, a local “psychiatric group” also saw the video of her overdose and called the police again, telling police that the woman had a gun and mentioned “suicide by cop.” The officers returned to find her armed outside her house before she retreated inside after the initial confrontation. Police tried for hours to persuade her to exit her house with her arms up. She eventually exited again, pointing her gun at a SWAT BearCat, and then retreated inside a second time. The third time she exited, she had placed the gun under her chin but was struggling to pull the trigger. So she pointed it at nearby SWAT officers, who fatally shot her.

Las Vegas Review-Journal

CBS Las Vegas

43. Calvin McKinnis — December 14, Louisiana

Shot after firing at an officer.

A New Orleans officer pulled over McKinnis’s car on a suspected license-plate violation. Remaining inside his police car, the officer told McKinnis to pull over and reveal his hands. As the officer approached the car, his body camera recorded the sound of a gunshot. He reportedly took cover and fatally shot McKinnis in return fire. A gun was allegedly found beside McKinnis’s body.

Times-Picayune

44. Hector Alvarez — December 14, California

Shot after charging at an officer.

Gilroy police responded to a call of domestic-violence disturbance regarding Alvarez, who was allegedly harming a woman believed to be his girlfriend. Alvarez reportedly charged at the first officer on the scene, and police fatally shot him.

CBS San Francisco

45. Jeffrey Evans — December 14, Maryland

Shot after threatening officers with knives and after a nonlethal method to subdue him failed.

Baltimore County police reached Evans’s residence in response to a report of his attempted suicide. Police said Evans wielded kitchen knives and moved toward the officers after they tried unsuccessfully to subdue him with a Taser. An officer had tried to persuade Evans to go to the hospital, but he refused, so they had to take him by force. The Taser was used unsuccessfully before and after Evans grabbed the knives, so three officers then fatally shot him.

Baltimore Sun

46. Mark Toney — December 14, West Virginia

Shot after pointing gun at officers and refusing to drop it.

West Virginia state police shot Toney when he reportedly pointed a shotgun at them, ignoring their commands to drop his weapon. Police were responding to a report that Toney allegedly stabbed two people.

WVVA

47. Mharloun Saycon — December 14, California

Shot after refusing to a drop knife and nonlethal methods to subdue him failed.

A Long Beach officer fatally shot Saycon at an arcade after he refused to drop his knife, and after police unsuccessfully used a Taser and a baton. Saycon had waived a knife inside the business, scaring away customers.

Los Angeles Times

48. Michael Thomason — December 14, Tennessee

Shot in an altercation with an officer.

Thomason, a homicide suspect, was fatally shot by Gibson County officers while hiding in a shed. Warrants were issued for his arrest on charges of first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault, violation of a protection order, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and theft of property. When officers arrived, they confronted Thomason, and the escalating situation ended with the deadly officer gunfire.

Jackson Sun

WBBJ-TV

49. Roberto Sanchez — December 14, Nevada

Shot after pointing a gun at officers and refusing to drop it.

Las Vegas police pursued an armed-robbery investigation to a house where the car they said was used in the robbery was parked. While they arrested three men there, Sanchez came out the front door, carrying a handgun. He ignored instructions to drop his weapon, pointing it at one of the officers, and was fatally shot.

Las Vegas Review-Journal

50. Ronnie Carr — December 15, North Carolina

Died in a crash after being shot when ramming the officers’ patrol car.

Dallas police were called to a Gaston County grocery store regarding a bogus-check scheme. They arrived and arrested two people. Carr, a third man believed to be involved in the scheme, tried to escape in his car. Police chased him and forced him to stop, but then Carr accelerated toward the officers and hit a patrol car. Several officers fired, wounding Carr, who sped away, crashed, and was found dead at the scene.

Charlotte Observer

 

51. Bryant Duncan — December 16, California

Shot after threatening an officer with a knife and refusing to drop it.

A Ventura County deputy fatally shot Duncan after Duncan charged at him with a knife, officials said. Duncan reportedly called 911 at an intersection and said a crime was going to happen and he wanted police to kill him. The deputy approached Duncan, who was holding a knife and yelling at the deputy to shoot him. The deputy told the man to drop the knife, but Duncan continued to move toward him. When Duncan was within a few feet of him, the deputy shot him.

Ventura County Star

52. Christopher Fletcher — December 17, California

Shot after refusing to drop his gun.

Two Modesto officers tried to stop Fletcher, an armed suspect on probation, from fleeing on his bicycle. Fletcher steered into a garage, where the officers instructed him to drop his gun. He failed to comply, and both officers fired, killing him.

Modesto Bee

KCRA-TV

53. Douglas Yon — December 17, Ohio

Shot after charging at officers with a machete.

Kent police responded to a disturbance call to find Yon standing outside his residence with a machete. Yon reportedly said that if police arrived, he would charge at them with his machete and make them shoot him, which they did in self-defense.

Plain Dealer

WKYC-TV

54. Amos Frerichs — December 18, Tennessee

Shot after hitting officers with a vehicle and trying to hit them again, and after a nonlethal method to subdue him failed.

Frerichs was a shoplifting suspect and a repeat offender. A Knox County deputy spied him shoplifting in a store and approached him. Frerichs fled to the parking lot, pursued by the deputy and another one. The deputies used electric stun guns unsuccessfully on Frerichs as he struggled. Frerichs escaped into his vehicle and drove it at the deputies, knocking them over. As Frerichs attempted to hit them again with his vehicle, one deputy fatally shot him.

Knoxville News Sentinel

 

55. Edel Moreland — December 18, Maryland

Shot after threatening an officer with what appeared to be a revolver.

Moreland brandished what appeared to be a revolver while allegedly trying to rob an off-duty Baltimore police officer. The officer then fatally shot Moreland. Moreland’s gun was later determined to be a realistic-looking toy revolver. He had a criminal record including drug offenses and second-degree assault.

Baltimore Sun

#share#

56. Erica Lauro — December 18, Ohio

Shot in a gunfight with officers.

Suspects in a felonious assault at a bar in the town of Oregon, Ohio, include Lauro and two men, all three of whom engaged in an altercation with another group. One of the men pistol-whipped a victim, and then the suspects fled in a car pursued by Oregon police. Northwood police eventually became involved, and Lauro was fatally shot by an officer in an ensuing gunfight between the suspects and the police.

Toledo Blade

 

57. Robert Martinez — December 18, New Mexico

Shot after a pointing gun at officers.

Taos County deputies responded to a domestic disturbance at a residence. They arrived to find Martinez reportedly pointing a gun at them. One officer then fatally shot Martinez.

Santa Fe New Mexican

58. Ruben Herrera — December 19, California

Shot after threatening officers with a metal stool and after a nonlethal method to subdue him failed.

Los Angeles residents called 911 to report a man, Herrera, throwing bottles at an apartment complex. When the LAPD arrived, Herrera tried to grab an officer’s gun. Police initially subdued him with nonlethal methods, but when Herrera later threateningly wielded a metal stool, a Taser was used unsuccessfully, and an officer shot him.

Los Angeles Times

59. Travon Scruggs — December 19, Virginia

Shot after firing at state police.

Campbell County deputies responded to a 911 report of an armed man, Scruggs, holding a three-year-old boy hostage. For 15 hours the deputies tried negotiating with Scruggs, who fired at them through a bedroom door. The deputies did not return fire and none were hurt. The Virginia state-police tactical team arrived to relieve the deputies and continued negotiations. Eventually the child left the bedroom and Scruggs began shooting at the tactical-team members. Scruggs died in their return fire.

News & Advance

 

(Dreamstime)

60. Leroy Browning — December 20, California

Shot after stealing an officer’s gun and after nonlethal methods to subdue him failed.

Los Angeles County deputies responded to a report of a single-car crash into a Taco Bell. They began investigating Browning, the driver, for DUI and decided to arrest him. When a deputy tried to handcuff him, he began fighting with the deputy. Other deputies came to his aid, and in the scuffle Browning reportedly grabbed the deputy’s gun. After unsuccessful attempts to subdue him and retrieve the weapon, the deputies fatally shot him.

KABC-TV

 

61. Mark Ramirez — December 20, Texas

Shot after threatening officers with a gun.

Amarillo police arrived at Ramirez’s residence after being informed that he was suicidal and possibly armed. When Ramirez opened the door, he reportedly moved with a gun in the officers’ direction. Police then fatally shot Ramirez.

KFDA-TV

62. Bobby Daniels — December 21, Georgia

Shot when a gun he was trying to wrest from his son pointed at an officer.

Douglas County deputies were responding to reports of a kidnapping when a man approached them and said Daniels was armed on a nearby street. Deputies found Daniels fighting with his son over a gun, but Daniels may have been trying to wrest the gun from him. In the fight, the gun was pointed at a deputy, who fatally shot Daniels. When Daniels dropped the gun, his son retrieved it and fled.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

63. Brandon Barsnick — December 21, California

Shot after pointing a gun at an officer.

A Yuba County regional SWAT team responded to help detectives from the Nevada County sheriff’s office serve a search-and-arrest warrant. On arrival at the person’s residence, the team reportedly encountered Barsnick outside it. Armed with a rifle, Barsnick refused to obey the team’s orders. He pointed the rifle at a team member, who fatally shot him.

Union

64. Chan Lieth — December 21, Colorado

Shot after threatening officers and customers with a vehicle.

Aurora police officers fatally shot Lieth when he reportedly rammed a police car multiple times with a stolen Jeep near a convenience store. Officers said Lieth had also threatened to use the Jeep as a weapon against officers and customers.

Denver Post

 

65. Derek DeGroat — December 21, Pennsylvania

Details unclear.

State police responded to a 911 suicide call reporting that DeGroat was holding a gun and threatening to kill himself. DeGroat’s girlfriend told police that he had three guns and would kill police if they responded. The details of the police encounter with DeGroat are unclear, but it ended in deadly force, which the county coroner ruled a homicide and possibly a case of “suicide by cop.”

Scranton Times-Tribune

WNEP-TV

(Dreamstime)

66. Guadalupe Quiroz — December 21, California

Shot after pointing a gun at officers.

Hemet police responded to reports of Quiroz waving a gun around in a mobile-home park, trying to enter residences. On arrival, police found that Quiroz was still armed. He pointed his gun at officers, and they fatally shot him.

Press-Enterprise

67. Michael Noel — December 21, Louisiana

Shot in a struggle with officers after a nonlethal method to subdue him failed.

Noel’s mother called the sheriff’s office of St. Martin Parish when Noel, who, his family said, had special needs, began having a breakdown. Noel’s family wanted the deputies to help calm him down and take him to the hospital. The family said they previously called the sheriff’s office to help with Noel and that the deputies were familiar with the situation. Noel’s aunt said deputies struggled to handcuff Noel, who was resisting because he didn’t want to go to the hospital. The deputies tased Noel twice unsuccessfully before fatally shooting him.

Daily Advertiser

68. Paul Testa — December 21, Florida

Died after being tased in a struggle with officers and placed in a restraining chair.

Testa was booked into jail on charges of criminal mischief and trespassing when he started acting erratically. Authorities used a Taser to subdue him and then sent him to medical staff before his first court appearance. At the appearance, when the judge ordered him to be committed, Testa acted up again, forcing officers to restrain him. Officers tased Testa again and put him in a restraining chair. Testa lost consciousness and later died.

Florida Times-Union

69. Robert Teter — December 21, Florida

Shot after refusing to drop his gun.

Teter got into a dispute with a taxi driver over the fare. After Teter’s credit card was declined, the dispute escalated and Teter exited the taxi and disappeared inside a residence. The driver then called Volusia County deputies. After they arrived, Teter emerged from the residence, armed with a gun. A deputy ordered Teter to drop the gun, but he refused, and the deputy fatally shot him.

Florida Today

WFTV Channel 9 Orlando

(Dreamstime)

 

70. Charles Reynolds — December 22, Kentucky

Shot in gunfire exchange with an officer.

A Ludlow officer pulled Reynolds over for an undisclosed reason. The two exchanged gunfire, injuring the officer and killing Reynolds.

Cincinnati Enquirer

71. Jose Rodriguez — December 22, New Mexico

Shot after apparently threatening an officer with a gun.

Albuquerque police responded to a report that Rodriguez was attempting to carjack a vehicle. Rodriguez wasn’t able to steal the car and fled on foot. Police located him nearby and fatally shot him. Detectives later found a gun near Rodriguez’s body.

Albuquerque Journal

KRQE-TV

72. Kenneth Stephens — December 22, Vermont

Shot after threatening officers with a gun.

Federal, local, and Vermont state police were conducting a drug raid inside an apartment when Stephens, the target of the raid, confronted them with a loaded rifle. Police then fatally shot him. Stephens had a long criminal record.

Burlington Free Press

Burlington Free Press

73. Michael Hilber — December 22, Florida

Shot while fleeing officers.

Hernando County sheriff’s deputies fatally shot Hilber in pursuit when Hilber was fleeing the scene of an armed robbery in which he was a suspect.

WFLA-TV

74. Kevin Matthews — December 23, Michigan

Shot in a struggle with an officer.

Matthews was wanted on a probation-violation warrant and was arrested for larceny before subsequently escaping from officers. His family said he was on medication for schizophrenia. A Dearborn officer was patrolling when he saw Matthews, who ran when the officer approached. The officer chased him and eventually caught him, and they reportedly began struggling. In the struggle, the officer fatally shot Matthews. His family disputes the officer’s version of the story. The officer’s uniform was found to be torn, equipment off his belt was disheveled, and he sustained minor head injuries.

Detroit Free Press

Detroit News

75. Daquan Westbrook — December 24, North Carolina

Shot after pointing a gun at an officer.

Westbrook, who had a long criminal record, was involved in a fight between two groups at a mall. Some fighters began shooting, and when a responding off-duty officer arrived, Westbrook pointed his gun at him. The officer then fatally shot Westbrook.

Charlotte Observer

(Dreamstime)

 

76. Gregory Sanders — December 24, Louisiana

Shot after pointing a gun at officers.

Baton Rouge deputies responded to reports of Sanders threatening to harm himself and destroying his house. When they arrived, he reportedly pointed a high-powered weapon at them, and they fatally shot him.

Advocate

77. Omar Ventura — December 24, California

Shot after threatening a woman with a knife and refusing to drop it.

A Porterville officer responded to a report of domestic violence involving Ventura and his girlfriend. When the officer arrived, Ventura was not there, and the officer began interviewing the girlfriend. Ventura returned home a few minutes later and began advancing toward his girlfriend with a knife. She ran and hid, and Ventura ignored the officer’s orders to drop the knife. The officer then fatally shot Ventura.

Porterville Recorder

78. Schuylar Gunning — December 24, Louisiana

Shot after accelerating a vehicle toward officers.

Franklin Parish sheriff’s deputies were chasing Gunning, who was driving recklessly. Gunning reportedly refused to stop at a road block and accelerated toward it, and the deputies at the road block fatally shot him.

KALB-TV

79. Terrozza Griffin — December 24, Michigan

Shot after firing at officers.

Lansing police responded to a report of Griffin crawling through the window of a house. Police confirmed that the home was occupied. Via public-address system and telephone, they communicated with a resident there for over two hours. After police reported seeing fire and smoke emanating from the house, they entered, and Griffin reportedly fired at them. Police fatally shot Griffin in return fire.

Lansing State Journal

80. William Raff — December 25, California

Shot after charging at officers with a knife.

Palo Alto police responded to a report that a person was threatening others with a knife. Officials later discovered that the report was fake and a ploy to draw the police to the residence. When police arrived on the scene, Raff allegedly charged at them with a knife. The police then fatally shot him.

San Jose Mercury News

San Francisco Chronicle

 

(Dreamstime)

81. Bettie Jones — December 26, Illinois

Accidentally shot during officers’ confrontation with an alleged aggressor.

Chicago police accidentally killed Jones when responding to a domestic disturbance, officials said. The caller said his son, Quintonio LeGrier, was threatening his life, banging on his door with a baseball bat. The family said they thought the police would take LeGrier to the hospital. On arrival, police were met with a “combative subject” and fired in self-defense, killing LeGrier and accidentally killing Jones as well.

Guardian

82. Gilbert Heredia — December 26, Idaho

Shot after pulling a gun on an officer.

Officers from the sheriff’s office of Homedale and Owyhee counties were called to Heredia’s home to supervise a custody handoff between Heredia and the mother of his children. After stepping outside with officers, Heredia drew a handgun, according to investigators. The officers ordered him to drop the gun, but he refused. Officers fatally shot him (see 84, below). Heredia may have fired his gun first.

KTVB-TV

 

83. Lonnie Niesen — December 26, Arizona

Shot after refusing to drop a rock or brick and hitting an officer with it.

Nieson threw a rock or brick at the car of a Phoenix police officer as the officer was leaving the police station. The officer called for backup, and Niesen began gathering more objects, throwing another rock or brick at the station door and shattering it. He reportedly refused to obey officer commands to drop the objects. Taking aim at an officer who was leaving the station, Niesen then tried to hit him in the head with a rock or brick. The object hit and injured the officer’s hand. The officer returned by fatally shooting Niesen.

Arizona Republic

Arizona Republic

84. Quintonio LeGrier — December 26, Illinois

Shot after threatening officers with a baseball bat.

In a case that has received much attention from the press and Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, LeGrier (see 82, above) was fatally shot by Chicago police when he confronted them aggressively with a baseball bat. Some members of LeGrier’s family said he suffered from mental-health problems, but his mother said he did not.

CNN

85. Michael Parker — December 27, Mississippi

Shot after car chase with officers.

Parker disobeyed a traffic stop initiated by George County sheriff’s deputies, and a high-speed chase ensued. A state trooper joined the pursuit, which ended in a crash. The deputies were reportedly forced to fire, killing Parker.

Sun Herald

(Dreamstime)

86. Sean Mould — December 27, Arizona

Shot after threatening officers with a knife.

Tempe police responded to a call from a woman who said that Mould, her boyfriend, refused to leave their house. On their arrival, Mould confronted them with a knife. Officers ordered him to drop the knife. He ignored the orders and moved toward them, and he officers then fatally shot him.

KNX-TV

 

87. Corey Achstein — December 28, Virginia

Shot when wielding realistic-looking BB gun.

Suffolk police responded to reports of Achstein chasing and threatening three juveniles. The first officer who arrived fatally shot Achstein, believing him to be a threat. Achstein had been wielding a BB gun that resembled a handgun.

13NewsNow

88. Siolosega Velega-Nuufolau — December 29, California

Shot after charging at and injuring an officer with a knife.

Merced County sheriff’s deputies responded to reports that Velega-Nuufolau was in a neighbor’s driveway screaming for someone to call 911. She had a knife and reportedly charged at an arriving deputy. The deputy sustained a minor hand injury and fatally shot her in self-defense. Velega-Nuufolau was a veteran who had a history of mental problems and several encounters with the law.

Fresno Bee

89. Tien Hua — December 29, California

Shot after fleeing officers and pointing an object at them.

LAPD officers barricaded and entered a residence on search and arrest warrants after being informed that Hua, a murder suspect, may have been armed with a handgun, although no weapon was later recovered. SWAT officers deployed teargas into the residence to force Hua out. They discovered that he had escaped into the backyard and was standing on a shed. Hua then reportedly pointed an object at the officers, who fatally shot him.

Los Angeles Times

90. Fred Perez — December 30, California

Shot while continuing to stab a woman after failure of nonlethal method.

Fresno police responded to reports of Perez beating a screaming woman in an apartment. Police ran to the room, broke a window, and saw Perez but not the woman. They broke into the room and found that Perez had stabbed the woman multiple times. Officers fired nonlethal beanbags at Perez, but he continued stabbing the woman. Then officers fatally shot him.

Fresno Bee

91. John Veach — December 30, Wyoming

Details unclear.

Rawlins police responded to a call about a drug sale, in a convenience-store parking lot, involving Veach. Officials said there was an arrest warrant for him. Details remain scarce, but police opened fire on Veach, who died from his wounds.

Casper Star-Tribune

92. Keith Childress Jr. — December 31, Nevada

Shot after refusing to drop a concealed object.

U.S. marshals were conducting surveillance on Childress, who was wanted out of Arizona on violent felonies. When he fled into a Monaco Cove planned community, the marshals asked Las Vegas police for help. While the officers were on their way, they were informed that Childress was wanted for an attempted murder. When they confronted him in the residential area, he was approaching them and hiding his hand from view. He ignored several commands to stop, reveal his hand, and drop what he was holding, so officers shot him, fatally. It was discovered that Childress had been holding a cell phone.

Las Vegas Review-Journal

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Basta La Vista, Baby

Dear Reader (And especially Martha McSally’s dog), As I often note, I increasingly tend to see the political scene as a scripted reality show in which the writers don’t flesh out the dialogue so much as move characters into weird, wacky, confrontational, or embarrassing positions. It’s a lot like The ... Read More
World

The Brexit Crisis

After what seem like years of a phony war, British and European Union negotiators finally agreed on the terms of Britain’s departure from the EU earlier this week, and Theresa May announced it in the House of Commons. The deal covers more than 500 pages of legal and bureaucratic prose, and few but the ... Read More
U.S.

Friends of Elmer

Do you know what scares an American outdoorsman more than a grizzly bear? Twitter. In the late summer and early autumn, the hunting world had its eyes on the courts: The Trump administration had issued new guidance that would permit the hunting of brown bears (popularly known as grizzly bears), including in ... Read More