- Kathryn Johnston, 92: (June 26, 1914 – November 21, 2006) was an elderly Atlanta, Georgia, woman who was shot by undercover police officers in her home on Neal Street in northwest Atlanta on November 21, 2006, where she had lived for 17 years. Three officers had entered her home in what was later described as a ‘botched’ drug raid. Officers cut off burglar bars and broke down her door using a no-knock warrant. Police said Johnston fired at them and they fired in response; she fired one shot out the door over the officers’ heads and they fired 39 shots, five or six of which hit her. None of the officers were injured by her gunfire, but Johnston was killed by the officers. Police injuries were later attributed to “friendly fire” from each other’s weapons.
One of the officers planted marijuana in Johnston’s house after the shooting. Later investigations found that the paperwork stating that drugs present at Johnston’s house, which had been the basis for the raid, had been falsified. The officers later admitted to having lied when they submitted cocaine as evidence claiming that they had bought it at Johnston’s house. Three officers were tried for manslaughter and other charges surrounding falsification and were sentenced to ten, six, and five years.
- Alesia Thomas, 35: Alesia Thomas died in police custody last July after having her hands and ankles bound together behind her back and being kicked in the genitals by an officer. Earlier public statements from the police described the confrontation between Thomas and a least five police officers in violent and dramatic terms. Just hours before Thomas’ encounter with police, she reportedly dropped off her two children, 12 and 3, at a South Los Angeles police station, saying later that she was a drug addict and struggling to support her family. Officers later tracked down the distraught mother at her home, where police arrested her on Child Endangerment charges. As officers attempted to take Thomas into custody, they said she began “violently” resisting arrest. One officer then took her down with a “leg sweep.” At some point during the struggle, according to eye-witness reports, officers yelled out profanities and disparaging comments about the woman’s weight. One female officer then threatened to kick the woman in the genitals if she didn’t calm down and comply, a threat the officer then carried out. Thomas continued to resist, police say, so officers placed her in a “hobble restraint device,” essentially hog-tying her by securing her ankles to her handcuffed hands. Within minutes Thomas was dead in the backseat of a police cruiser. [MSNBC]
- Tarika Wilson, 26: A SWAT team arrived at Ms. Wilson’s rented house in the Southside neighborhood early in the evening of Jan. 4 to arrest her companion, Anthony Terry, on suspicion of drug dealing, said Greg Garlock, Lima’s police chief. Officers bashed in the front door and entered with guns drawn, said neighbors who saw the raid.
Moments later, the police opened fire, killing Ms. Wilson, 26, and wounding her 14-month-old son, Sincere, Chief Garlock said. One officer involved in the raid, Sgt. Joseph Chavalia, a 31-year veteran, has been placed on paid administrative leave. [New York Times]
- Aiyana Stanley-Jones, 7: (July 20, 2002 – May 16, 2010), was a seven-year-old girl from the East Side of Detroit, Michiganwho was shot and killed during a raid conducted by the Detroit Police Department’s Special Response Team on May 16, 2010. Her death drew national media attention and led U.S. Representative John Conyers to ask U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for a federal investigation into the incident. Police officers, bystanders, and residents of the home disagreed about the events that followed. According to police, Officer Joseph Weekley was the first one through the door. He pushed his way inside, protected by a ballistic shield. Mertilla Jones attempted to grab his gun, causing it to fire. The bullet struck Aiyana. “A woman inside grabbed my gun,” Weekley said. “It fired. The bullet hit a child.”
Jones was held overnight and released. She said she reached for her granddaughter when the grenade came through the window, not for the officer’s gun. She said she made no contact with them. Fieger, the family’s lawyer, said the police fired the shot that struck Aiyana from outside the home, possibly through the open front door.
The police officer responsible for the shooting, Joseph “Brain” Weekley, is a member of Detroit’s SWAT team and was a frequent subject on A&E, whose film crews were also filming the investigation for the documentary TV series The First 48.
- Shantel Davis, 23: Davis was attempting to flee officers in a stolen car when she crashed and was then shot to death by detective Phil Atkins. The detective entered the vehicle and fired a single round into Davis’ chest as she attempted to drive in reverse. Since 2003, Atkins has faced at least six civil suits for brutality.
- Tyisha Miller, 19: (1979-1998) was an African American woman from Rubidoux, California. She was shot dead by police officers called by family members who could not wake her as she lay unconscious in a car. The incident sparked demonstrations and protests amid claims of police racism. The officers involved were fired from Riverside Police Department but did not face prosecution due to insufficient evidence. When relatives arrived they found Ms. Miller apparently comatose in the locked car, with the engine running and the radio on. She was shaking bodily and foaming at the mouth, and had a .380 semi-automatic pistol in her lap. Unable to wake her they called 9-1-1. Four Police officers arrived at the scene within minutes and, informed by family members of the presence of a gun in the car, approached the vehicle with guns drawn. After attempting for several minutes to get a response from Miller, the decision was made to force entry into the vehicle as Miller was in apparent need of immediate medical attention. As one of the officers was attempting to remove the gun, Miller is said to have sat up and grabbed the weapon, at which point the officers opened fire 23 times, hitting Ms. Miller with at least 12 bullets, including four in the head. The officers involved, three white and one Hispanic, were placed on administrative leave. They claimed they had acted in self-defense.
- Rekia Boyd, 27: Accounts on what happened the night of Boyd’s shooting differ between Chicago police and Boyd’s friends and family, the former arguing that the off-duty officer “feared for his life” and acted in self-defense while the latter say Boyd was an unarmed innocent bystander killed without justification.
After leaving his home, armed, “to get a burger,” prosecutors say Servin confronted Boyd and her group as they were leaving the park. From his car, Servin told the group to quiet down, sparking a verbal altercation between him and the men in Boyd’s party.
Servin said one of the men with Boyd, Antonio Cross, pointed a gun at him, prompting Servin to fire in self-defense. Cross was hit in the hand and Boyd was hit in the back of the head; she died two days later. Cross was later determined to be holding a cell phone at the time and the Independent Police Review Authority has since stated no weapon was ever recovered at the scene. [The Huffington Post]
- Kendra James, 21: Kendra James was a 21-year-old African-American Oregon woman who was shot to death by police on May 5, 2003. The incident sparked a controversy over the use of deadly force by the Portland Police Bureau in Portland, Oregon.
James was a passenger stopped by Portland police officers Rick Bean, Kenneth Reynolds, and Scott McCollister. The driver, Terry Jackson, was arrested and placed in a squad car after he was discovered to have an outstanding warrant. After he and another passenger in the car were removed peaceably by the officers, James jumped from the back seat into the driver’s seat. McCollister then made several unsuccessful attempts to remove James while partially within the vehicle through an open door. He claimed to have tried to pull James out by her hair, and also attempted to use a Taser. He said that he had also attempted to use pepper spray to subdue James, but was unable to operate the canister; an investigation by the Portland Police Bureau found McCollister’s pepper spray canister was operational, but no traces of spray were found. McCollister drew his firearm and held it to James’ head, demanding she exit the vehicle. McCollister said he then felt the car move and, concerned that he could have fallen out and been run over, fired a single shot.
The James family’s lawyers questioned whether evidence existed regarding James attempting to move the car, and whether the tactics McCollister used, especially his attempt to enter the car (McCollister said that he was 80% in the car), were consistent with police training. Several witnesses alleged that McCollister did not fire while within the car;powder residue testing indicated that McCollister’s handgun was at least 30 to 48 inches away from James when discharged, a fact which lawyers for James’ family alleged was inconsistent with McCollister’s version of events. Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schrunk declined to hold a public inquest into James’ death; McCollister was cleared by a federal grand jury.
In 2005, the bureau announced changes in the guidelines for police use of deadly force, including a prohibition against shooting at a moving vehicle, that were intended to prevent similar incidents. In 2005 a civil suit against McCollister seeking $10 million in damages went to trial.
On June 29, 2005, the jury ruled in favor of McCollister, ending the civil case.