Friday, May 08, 2015

Lethal Acts of Force in 2014 - 6. Unarmed Men Killed By Police

In part two of this series, I looked into the racial disparities of lethal acts of force by police officers in the United States in 2014. I found that black males had been killed by police at a rate of 13 deaths per million, while white non-Hispanic males had been killed at a rate of only 4.4 deaths per million. A black male in 2014 was thus three times as likely to have been killed by a police officer’s lethal act of force as a white male was. 

By itself though, this statistic doesn’t tell us much.  After all, the violent crime rate for black offenders is much higher than for white offenders. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the rate of black homicide offenders is almost eight times as high as the rate of white homicide offenders.[1]  It makes sense that murderers are more likely to threaten a police officer with deadly force, so if police officers respond to deadly threats by shooting all people who threaten them without regard to race, then black people are probably going to be killed at a higher rate than white people. 

It’s impossible to use this data I've collected to say whether or not police officers have racial biases. After all, we don’t know how many people lived after confrontations with police; we just know how many died.  But the data does raise many interesting questions.

Why were unarmed black men shot and killed by police at a rate 5.5 times the rate at which unarmed white men were shot and killed by police in 2014, even though black men were only 3 times as likely to be killed by police as white men? 

And why did Hispanic people who were both unarmed and non-threatening die at a rate 8.4 times that of white people who were both unarmed and non-threatening?

Number of unarmed people shot by police in 2014
unarmed, non threatening

Number of unarmed males shot by police in 2014
Unarmed, non threatening

Rate of death by police gunfire per million, 2014
Unarmed, non threatening
Total, males
Black males
White males
Hispanic males

Ratios, comparing minority male death rate by police gunfire to white male death rate by police gunfire, 2014
Unarmed, non threatening
Black males
White males
Hispanic males


I looked into the reasons why police officers used their guns to shoot at people in these officer involved shooting incidents that resulted in death.  I gathered this data from reading every news article and report I could find about every incident in the database for 2014. Almost always included in these articles was a statement from the agency responsible describing the scenario, and embedded in most descriptions was a nexus for why the “officer involved shooting” occurred.  I stuck with the police narrative as the “narrative of record” even if news reports talked to witnesses or family members who disagreed with the police narrative.  I only deviated from the police narrative for three reasons:
  1. A reputable media organization did really thorough investigative reporting on an incident that would show the police narrative couldn’t possibly be true, or
  2. The investigation and district attorney’s report about the incident revealed a different narrative than what police officers had stated, or
  3. There was irrefutable video evidence that the police narrative wasn’t true.

In some cases, the police narrative was incomplete, or contained only information about a weapon the decedent possessed rather than whether a threat was made to the officers or bystanders.  In these cases, I assumed that the decedent was being confrontational with the weapon (brandishing a gun or knife), not running away, and not aiming at or charging towards police officers in a threatening way. If no weapon was mentioned, I assumed the decedent was unarmed.

I categorized each incident by weapon used and by threat to the officer or another victim. For these purposes I did not differentiate between threat to an officer and threat to another specific victim in the officer’s presence. 


  • Gun
  • Knife
  • Vehicle
  • Some other weapon
  • Unarmed


  • Using force (shooting a gun; stabbing a victim with a knife; striking a victim with a car; striking a victim with another weapon; punching or kicking an officer or another victim regardless of who started it)
  • Threatening force (aiming a gun; charging or lunging with a knife or other weapon; charging at someone with a car; running threateningly towards officers even if unarmed)
  • Being confrontational (brandishing a gun or knife or other weapon; reaching for a gun; holding a non-weapon in a threatening way in order to prompt a police response)
  • Non-threatening (running away while holding a gun or knife or other weapon; driving away in a car; unarmed people who aren’t holding fake weapons or threatening bodily harm to officers)

Comparing the threat nexus for black, white and Hispanic people revealed some interesting facts.  Here are three of them.

Unarmed black people and physical struggles with police

The percentage of decedents killed by police gunfire because they were engaged in a physical struggle with police officers while unarmed was significantly higher for black people than for all other races.  The percentage of decedents of all races who died of gunfire in an unarmed physical struggle with police was only 4%, but this category made up 9% of black decedents.  This might mean that police officers resort more quickly to deadly force when engaged in a physical struggle with a black person than with others, which would be troubling. But it might also mean that police officers more often encounter black people in situations where physical force is required, rather than in standoff situations or during pursuits (this might also be why such a high percentage of people who died from tasers were black.)

White people with guns pointed at police

While only 24% of decedents were killed by police in 2014 because they pointed (but did not fire) a gun at police or others, 29% of white people killed by police were killed in this way. This is likely related to the fact that by far the majority of calls made to police about suicidal people were about white people. 

While only 49% of people killed by police in 2014 were white, 79% of people killed by police after police were called about a suicidal person were white. 

A typical suicide call involved a person with a gun (71% of incidents).  When the police would show up, the person would typically point a gun at police in order to get the police to respond by shooting the suicidal person (47% of incidents). Sometimes this would happen quickly, and sometimes there would be a standoff of thirty minutes or more (28% of incidents). 

Non-threatening unarmed Hispanic people

Though only 4% of people killed by police in 2014 were both unarmed and not threatening anyone, 10% of Hispanic people killed by police in 2014 were killed despite having no weapon (real or fake), despite throwing no punches at cops, and despite not charging at cops.  Only 3% of black people killed by police in 2014 fell into this category, and 2% of white people. 

I don’t have an explanation for this unusual disparity. More unarmed non-threatening Hispanic people died than in all other race categories combined (52%), despite the fact that Hispanic people make up only 17% of the population and only 19% of the deaths by police gunfire in 2014.

Here are the 33 unarmed non-threatening people that police shot and killed in 2014

Most of the decedents whose homicides received national attention are not found here (Michael Brown charged at a police officer, Eric Garner wasn’t shot, James Boyd had a knife, Tamir Rice had a toy gun, John Crawford III had an air rifle, Ezell Ford was shot during a physical struggle with police, Darrien Hunt ran away while clutching a sword). Often these folks are unsavory characters who were killed by police after committing crimes, though there are several people who were killed over mistaken identity or stray bullets.  Hands making furtive movements or reaching for waistbands are the reasons for many of these killings.      

1. Enrique Carlos Rodarte
32 year old Hispanic male
Shot on January 12, 2014 by San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office
Victorville, California

Deputies responded to a 911 call about shots being fired. When they got there, Rodarte fishtailed out of his friend’s driveway.  A deputy chased him for about two blocks. Rodarte threw his pellet gun out the window and hurriedly drove to his house, where he barricaded himself inside.  A standoff ensued for 4.5 hours, during which time Rodarte flipped cops off and told them to fuck themselves. Around 2:30 at night, when Rodarte came out holding a 40-ounce beer while reaching into the center pocket of his “poncho”, deputies believed he was reaching for a gun and shot 30-40 rounds at him. Rodarte did not have a gun. Five deputies were involved: Brad Bonnet, Paul Casas, Jason Fortier, David Page, and John Walker. In March San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos cleared all deputies of wrongdoing, saying that Rodarte had been “reaching into his waistband in a manner consistent with weapon retrieval.”[2]

2. Manuel Orosco Longoria
40 year old Hispanic male
Shot on January 14, 2014 by Pinal County Sheriff’s Office
Eloy, Arizona

Longoria had taken his sister's car without her permission, so his sister filed a complaint. State troopers spotted Longoria in the car near Casa Grande and attempted to pull him over. Longoria instead led deputies on a chase to Eloy, where he then just drove around downtown a bunch. After an hour, Longoria finally stopped and came out of his car as 20 or so troopers, sheriff’s deputies and Eloy PD officers surrounded him. He did not have a weapon, but he refused to comply with orders. He was shot with beanbag rounds and apparently tasers as well, which made him crouch and turn towards the Corolla he had emerged from, but he did not fall to the ground. Then in his last conscious act, Longoria raised his hands high in the air for a cell phone video to see as his back was turned to most of the officers.[3] Then Deputy Rankin fired two bullets at him. Rankin had taken anger management courses for his domestic violence charge and had previously been involved in a punching incident that left his hand injured for the better part of a year. He was the only deputy to fire his weapon that day. Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu made many statements to news media afterwards saying that he would have shot the unarmed Longoria even earlier. In June, the Arizona AG's office cleared Deputy Rankin of criminal wrongdoing.[4]

3. Pierree C. Davis
21 year old black male
Shot on January 26, 2014 by Federal Heights PD
Federal Heights, Colorado

Davis had just robbed one Family Dollar store when he decided to rob another. He ordered the clerks at the Family Dollar on Pecos to give him cash or else he'd shoot them with his handgun. As Davis was leaving the store, Officer Rick Lahr was waiting for him with his department issued AR-15 assault rifle pointed at him. Davis ignored commands to stop running away. Lahr shot Davis, but the wound was non-fatal. Davis fell, but got up again with hands up. But then according to the district attorney’s report, Lahr ordered Davis to get on the ground and to stop looking at him.  Instead Davis kept moving his hands towards his body, seemingly ignoring Lahr's commands to keep his palms visible. So Lahr shot him again, this time fatally. Davis's handgun was found 10 yards away from where he was shot. In May Colorado 17th District Attorney Dave Young cleared Officer Lahr of criminal charges.[5]

4. Michael Paul Napier
33 year old white male
Shot on January 30, 2014 by San Diego County Sheriff’s Office
Vista, California

Michael Paul Napier was working on his bicycle in his parents’ garage one evening when deputies confronted him in order to arrest him on a drug-related warrant.  As Napier got up, he refused orders to show his hands and instead reached for his waistband.  Deputies Nicholas Danza and Brandon Boisseranc then shot at Napier 15 times, with 7 shots striking Napier and killing him.  Napier's father said afterwards that Napier was bipolar, but mental illness doesn't seem to be an issue in this incident.[6]  Radley Balko of the Washington Post mentioned this incident in a brief post about recent San Diego officer involved shootings.[7]  In March 2015, Napier’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office.[8]

5. Javier Mendez
35 year old Hispanic male
Shot on February 13, 2014 by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
West Covina, California

Mendez had been at his mother’s house demanding money from her. Someone called police to report this threat, and as deputies arrived, Mendez’s car sped away. Mendez led deputies on a chase, then bailed at a supermarket where he got out and started running. Mendez ran through the supermarket, out the back door, over some fences and through some back yards before encountering deputies at a house on the corner of Elberland Street and Abelian Avenue. Deputies believed Mendez had a gun when he attempted to rob his mother.  But he did not have a gun when they shot him in someone's back yard as he was fleeing police.[9]

6. Yvette Smith
45 year old black female
Shot on February 16, 2014 by Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office
Bastrop, Texas

Sheriff’s deputies responded to a call about gunshots at a house.  Details are still sketchy, but what is known is that the first statement on the incident from the sheriff’s office stated that “the woman came to the doorway of the residence displaying a firearm,” after which point she refused commands and got shot by Deputy Daniel Willis (a white man).  The firearm part turned out to be not true.  The sheriff’s office released another statement saying they could not confirm that she had any weapon, let alone a gun, when she was shot and killed.  In June 2014, a Bastrop County grand jury indicted Deputy Willis for murder.  His trial is scheduled for June 2015.  In August 2014, Smith's family filed a $5,000,000 lawsuit against the sheriff's office.[10] In April 2015, the Smith family settled with Bastrop County for $1.22 million.[11]

7. Deosaran Maharaj
51 year old Asian (subcontinent) male
Shot on March 16, 2014 by Broward Sheriff’s Office
Pompano Beach, Florida

Maharaj, a coconut seller, was leaving a gas station in his white pickup after apparently making a woman uneasy with his machete. The woman told Deputy Paul Yesbeck, who happened to be at the gas station, and Yesbeck followed Maharaj and pulled him over. Maharaj got out of the vehicle, but would not follow Yesbeck's commands. Maharaj got back into the cab of the truck. Local 10 investigative reporter Bob Norman said that Maharaj was rooting around in the truck for something, and that's when Deputy Yesbeck opened fire. Sheriff Scott Israel said that a machete was in plain view in the cab of the truck.[12] An NBC report stated that the machete and many coconuts were found in the bed of the truck.[13] The BSO report just states that Maharaj went to his truck and began rifling through it.[14] Broward sheriff officials later told family members that Maharaj was not holding the machete when he was shot.[15] Deputy Yesbeck retired from the force in August.

8. Hector Chairez
40 year old Hispanic male
Shot on March 20, 2014 by Monterey County Sheriff’s Office
Carmel, California

Chairez and a woman had burglarized a house and were getting away in a stolen Uhaul when Deputy Michael Fritsche and Deputy Angus Wilhite tracked them down. Chairez's Uhaul struck the police car, and a short chase ensued. Chairez and the woman eventually bailed, pursued by deputies. Chairez hid behind a tree, and a short standoff ensued. Chairez told deputies he didn't have a gun and that he needed help because he was suicidal. He asked for mental help twice.  Fritsche later testified he had heard earlier that Chairez did have a gun through broken scanner traffic, but dispatch was actually saying the burglary victim was the one with the gun. Chairez made a move with his hands, as one does when one is living, and Fritsche and Wilhite shot four times at him from no closer than 57 feet away, with three bullets striking him. Chairez had "lightly cinched" a black belt around his neck during the standoff. In October, Monterey County District Attorney Dean Flippo declined to press criminal charges against Deputy Fritsche and Deputy Wilhite.[16]

9. Deandre Lloyd Starks
27 year old black male
Shot on March 25, 2014 by Tulsa PD
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Starks was carrying rocks of crack cocaine at a house when Tulsa police arrived on a search warrant. Starks attempted to flee but was shot with beanbag rounds to stop him. Starks “kept moving his hands in a furtive motion in the front area of his hoodie and waistband area” according to the district attorney.  Officer Mark Wollmershauser shot him after he refused to show his hands.  No weapons were found on Starks or in the house he was in.  In April, the Tulsa County DA Tim Harris found Officer Wollmershauser was justified in killing Starks because he didn't show his hands.[17]

10. John Winkler
30 year old white male
Shot on April 7, 2014 by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
West Hollywood, California

This was a case of mistaken identity.  On a call about a guy stabbing people inside a West Hollywood apartment, deputies were surprised to encounter two men who burst out of an apartment. The first man who exited was bleeding profusely from the neck. Winkler followed close behind. The deputies on scene apparently were confused when they saw Winkler “lunging at the back of the fleeing victim.” Deputies shot Winkler four times and the other victim was shot once. Winkler died from his injuries at a hospital. The other victim survived, though now with a bullet wound to go along with his stabbing wounds.  The thing is, Winkler and the man who was bleeding were actually victims of a third man who lived inside the apartment building. The deputies had been briefed by other witnesses about who the suspect was, and they were shown pictures showing what he looked like.  Winkler and the stabber did not look alike. Deputies Michael Fairbanks, Byron Holloway and Gerardo Baldivia shot at Winkler anyway. Winkler's parents filed a lawsuit against LA County Sheriffs in December.  The stabber has been charged with Winkler’s murder.  This is not an accidental weapon discharge or a stray bullet intended for another person: deputies aimed at Winkler and struck Winkler.[18]

11. Richard Ramirez
38 year old white male
Shot on April 14, 2014 by Billings PD
Billings, Montana

Ramirez was a passenger in a car being pulled over by Billings police officer Grant Morrison.  The dashboard video, with the audio, is necessary to understand this incident. ( /). Here's my transcript of this incident. [aggressive cop tone, 1:13] Hands up! All four of you, hands up! [tone softens, 1:18] What were you doing, moving your hands around so much? Making me nervous, man! Who are you? Richard? [aggressive cop tone again, 1:28] All of you, put your fucking hands up right now on top of the seats! *Dispatch ... I've got Richard Ramirez here, could everybody step it up* [scared but aggressive cop voice, 1:36] Hands up! Hands on the fucking, get your fucking hands up or I'm going to shoot you! [draws gun at 1:40, is still standing literally 2 feet away from Ramirez] I will shoot you! Hands up! [three shots fired at 1:42] HANDS UP! HANDS UP! I WILL SHOOT YOU AGAIN! HANDS UP! YOU FUCKING MOVE I'M GOING TO SHOOT YOU! GET ON THE FUCKING GROUND! GET ON THE GROUND! [calls dispatch about shots "fucking" fired at 1:57]. I don't know what Ramirez's left hand was reaching for, but his hand-non-compliance was not done in an attempt to fake the cop out to make him believe he had a gun. There was only one person doing any threatening in this situation, and it was Officer Morrison.  A coroner's jury ruled in January 2015 that Officer Morrison committed a non-criminal, justified homicide. The initial stop seemed to be a traffic stop, as Morrison later said that he wasn't aware that it was Ramirez, who was wanted for questioning in a shooting incident the previous day, until he opened the passenger door.

12. Brandon Leonel Monroy
20 year old Hispanic male
Shot on April 20, 2014 by Texas Department of Public Safety (state troopers)
Lubbock, Texas

Monroy had been pulled over by Trooper Corina Jandrew south of Lubbock. Monroy provided false identification, so Jandrew arrested Monroy. Then as Monroy was handcuffed, he attempted to steal the patrol vehicle somehow. Jandrew shot Monroy “during the attempted felony theft”. Monroy died later that day at a hospital.  No information on this incident has been released since April of 2014. The statement makes no mention of Monroy using the vehicle as a weapon against Trooper Jandrew or even that Monroy had operated the vehicle at all.  There was a physical struggle, but it seemed to have occurred before the shooting took place.[19]

13. Jason Conoscenti
36 year old white male
Shot on April 27, 2014 by Long Beach PD
Long Beach, California

Conoscenti had shoplifted at a Target in Compton. He led deputies on a slow speed chase through south Los Angeles County to Long Beach.  On a dead-end street with stairs at the end leading down to the beach, Conoscenti parked his car and a brief standoff ensued.  After about fifteen minutes Conoscenti got out of the car carrying a wooden stick, but rather than confronting the police, he walked away from them as they had released a K-9 unit.  A really good cell phone video exists showing Conoscenti exiting the car with the stick, then disappearing from view, then reappearing limping down the stairs stick-less, with a police dog chasing him. It is at this point, in his stickless limping condition, that Conoscenti was shot by Long Beach police. According to the statement released by Long Beach police, they heard a gunshot and thought it came from Conoscenti firing at the LA County Sheriff’s deputies at the top of the stairs. The sound was probably the beanbag round being fired at Conoscenti by deputies. Long Beach police said their view was obstructed by palms and shrubbery, so they were unable to see that Conoscenti didn't have a weapon.[20]

14. Jose Luis Arambula
31 year old Hispanic male
Shot on June 2, 2014 by U.S. Border Patrol
Green Valley, Arizona

Agent Daniel Marquez was alerted to Arambula's Jeep when it avoided a checkpoint on the freeway. Arambula led Border Patrol agents on a 15-mile car chase on the highway and through a golf course, ending in a neighboring pecan grove.  Arambula bailed out of his car and fled on foot, pursued by Agent Marquez.  Marquez later claimed he saw Arambula do motions with his hands and feared he was going to draw a weapon, so Agent Marquez shot at Arambula nine times, striking him once. Arambula did not have a weapon, though he did have 500 pounds of marijuana in his car.  Kellie Johnson, chief criminal deputy for County Attorney Barbara LaWall, declared in September that a jury probably would find Agent Marquez's actions justified.  Arizona Daily Star writer Kimberly Matas described the situation like this: "A U.S. Border Patrol agent who shot and killed an unarmed and fleeing suspect in May has been cleared of any wrongdoing by the Pima County Attorney’s Office."[21]

15. Jerry Dwight Brown
41 year old black male
Shot on July 1, 2014 by Pasco County Sheriff’s Office
Zephyrhills, Florida

Brown was the target of a sting operation into illegal prescription drug sales. Deputies bought a large amount of pills from Brown while sitting in an undercover officer’s vehicle. A team of deputies in gear, including Daniel Green and Clinton Cabbage, moved in to arrest Brown.  Brown attempted to get out of the vehicle, then he reached his hand into his pocket.  Brown was then shot by Cabbage and Green because he would not show his hands.  Brown was unarmed. Sheriff Chris Nocco defended the killing for non-compliance, saying “When they said 'Show me your hands,' the suspect should've showed us his hands.”[22]  In October, Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe declared the actions of Deputy Green and Deputy Cabbage justified.[23]

16. Frank Al Mendoza
54 year old Hispanic male
Shot on August 1, 2014 by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
Pico Rivera, California

Another misadventure from LA County Sheriffs, Frank Al Mendoza was shot in another case of mistaken identity.  Deputies came to Mendoza’s neighborhood to serve a warrant to Cedric Oscar Ramirez, a 24 year old Hispanic male. Ramirez spotted the deputies and fled as deputies tracked him down.  Ramirez fired a shot at police from Mendoza’s driveway, then broke into Mendoza's house. Deputies were pursuing Ramirez through the house when they saw Mendoza in the doorway. One deputy shot Mendoza twice, thinking he was Ramirez (i.e. this wasn't because of a stray bullet, and the deputy didn't fire his weapon on accident.) Mendoza, who was much older and bigger than Ramirez, died.  Deputies backed off and engaged in a standoff with Ramirez for 8 hours. Then a SWAT team barged in and killed Ramirez as he was holding Mendoza's wife hostage.[24]

17. Jacorey Calhoun
23 year old black male
Shot on August 3, 2014 by Alameda County Sheriff’s Office
Oakland, California

Calhoun had run from a traffic stop in Oakland. After about an hour searching the neighborhood, Deputy Derek Thoms and his K-9 unit found Calhoun hiding in a back yard.  As Calhoun was being attacked by the K-9 unit, he reached for his waistband, making Deputy Thoms nervous. Thoms opened fire on Calhoun, striking him at least seven times. Calhoun was unarmed.[25]

18. Manuel Flores
28 year old Hispanic male
Shot on August 4, 2014 by Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office
Albuquerque, New Mexico

The video of this incident is necessary and mind boggling.[26] (Here’s the Taiwanese Tomo News recreated version: : equally mindboggling for many reasons). A surveillance camera clearly shows Flores ramming the driver’s side door of Deputy Rodriguez's vehicle at a fairly high speed, then both vehicles come to a stop.  A sheriff's spokesman at the time said that Flores "got out of his vehicle with his hands up as if he was celebrating and walked toward the deputy. The deputy feared for his life and fired two rounds."[27] The video clearly shows Flores getting out of the vehicle with his hands up and was walking away from the Deputy Sam Rodriguez when he was shot.  "BCSO’s release states that the man had his hands up as if he were “celebrating.” But spokesman Aaron Williamson said in a phone interview later that characterization was one investigator’s opinion and wasn’t supposed to be released. He said the office doesn’t know why the man had his hands up or exactly what he was doing."[28]  Generally if one's hands are up and one doesn't have a weapon, that means “don’t shoot me”.

19. Misty Jean Holt-Singh
41 year old white female
Shot on July 16, 2014 by Stockton PD
Stockton, California

Misty Holt-Singh was a victim of at least 10 stray bullets fired by Stockton Police in their tragic attempt to stop a car full of bank robbers from getting away.  There were six people in an SUV speeding away from the bank:  Three bank robbers (Alex Martinez, Gilbert Renteria Jr., Jaime Ramos) and three hostages including Misty Holt-Singh. Along the way the bank robbers kicked out two of the hostages. Martinez and Renteria had an AK-47 and shot at officers repeatedly. Officers were able to shoot out their tires, and then a standoff commenced at the side of the road. After 34 officers fired over 600 bullets, the officers eventually were able to shoot and kill Martinez and Renteria, but they also accidentally killed Holt-Singh.  Ramos lived. Holt-Singh’s family filed a claim against the City of Stockton in February, 2015.[29]

20. Dillon Taylor
20 year old white and Hispanic male
Shot on August 11, 2014 by Salt Lake City PD
Salt Lake City, Utah

Someone called 911 to report that Taylor and his friends were flashing a gun and causing a scene at a 7-11.  The caller mistook Taylor’s baggy pants and youthful aggression for someone with a gun. Officer Bron Cruz arrived on the scene. Body camera video showed Taylor lifting his shirt, and Cruz’s testimony was that Taylor was reaching for something in his pants, but of course by this time Cruz was fast-walking with a gun drawn toward Taylor.  Taylor was shot twice and died in the 7-11 parking lot.  District Attorney Sim Gill deemed Officer Cruz's actions justified in October, when he also released the body camera footage.[30]

21. Maria Fernanda Godinez
22 year old Hispanic female
Shot on August 19, 2014 by Orlando PD
Orlando, Florida

Godinez was out partying at Vixen Bar when a fellow patron, Kody Roach, pulled out a gun and brandished it around. Bike cop Eduardo Sanguino showed up on scene, along with two other officers. The Vixen bar owners tried to kick Roach out, and the officers tried to order Roach to get down on the ground in this crowded nightclub.  One officer attempted to tase Roach, which was ineffective. Afterwards something happened, and Officer Sanguino shot his gun in the crowded nightclub nine times at Roach. Roach was injured but did not die from the incident. But stray bullets from Sanguino's gun struck both a fellow officer and Vixen patron Godinez. Godinez died. Roach's gun for what it’s worth was unloaded the whole time.[31]

22. Bryce Dion
38 year old white male
Shot on August 27, 2014 by Omaha PD
Omaha, Nebraska

Another stray bullet killing, Bryce Dion was an audio technician for the show “COPS”. During an armed robbery call, Omaha police officers started firing at the robbery suspect, Cortez Washington, who was pointing his Airsoft pistol at police. Though he was wearing a bulletproof vest, Dion was shot by a single bullet and died. Washington also died. The officers returned to duty two weeks later.[32]

23. Matthew Porraz
21 year old Hispanic male
Shot on September 16, 2014 by Fresno PD
Fresno, California

Porraz was a gang member and a suspect in three murders. Police received a tip and tracked him down to his girlfriend’s house. As officers arrived at the front door, Porraz attempted to escape out the back window of the apartment. Then three plainclothes police officers fired two rounds each at Porraz and killed him, saying they felt threatened. No weapon was found, and no further justification was given for the shooting.[33]

24. Rafael Laureano
51 year old Hispanic male
Shot on September 29, 2014 by NYPD
Brooklyn, New York

A stray bullet killing, Laureano helped police bust down the door to help save his girlfriend from her knife-wielding ex-boyfriend Francisco Carvajal.  Laureano was inadvertently struck by one of the 18 bullets fired at Carvajal and died. Carvajal also died in the incident. Carvajal and Laureano were both body-builders.[34]

25. Michael Ricardo Minor
38 year old black male
Shot on October 23, 2014 by Prince George’s County Sheriff’s Office
Suitland, Maryland

Minor had assaulted a woman, then left to walk his dog. Deputies arrived while he was gone and spoke to the woman. The woman told deputies that Minor had possibly retrieved a handgun before he left. When Minor returned, he encountered Deputy Kendal Wade. Minor “made furtive movements” with his hands during the encounter, so Deputy Wade shot him and killed him. Minor was unarmed.  In March 2015, a Prince George’s County grand jury declined to indict Deputy Wade. In April Minor’s family filed a $10 million lawsuit against the county.[35]

26. Oscar Ramirez Jr.
28 year old Hispanic male
Shot on October 27, 2014 by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
Paramount, California

Sheriff’s deputies got word that there was going to be a fight in the park by Paramount High School, and someone was bringing a gun.  When Deputy Byron Moreno arrived, most of the people had left, but Moreno caught up to one of the guys they thought might be a participant, Ramirez. While talking to Deputy Moreno, Ramirez kept his right hand behind his back. Ramirez then made some kind of move with his hand that spooked the deputy, so Deputy Moreno shot him and killed him. Sheriff’s deputies searched for hours but were unable to find a gun or a knife. The family is suing the Sheriff’s department.[36]

27. Aaron Forgash
38 year old white male
Shot on November 11, 2014 by Riverside County Sheriff’s Department
Perris, California

Forgash attempted to use a fraudulent check and fake ID at a Home Depot in Corona. Deputies caught up to him in his minivan and attempted to pull him over, but Forgash led deputies on a chase that ended in a residential neighborhood in Perris. Deputies Michael Heurer and Robert Powe shot him as Forgash emerged from his minivan. According to a witness, Forgash was empty-handed when he was shot by a motorcycle cop, though he made a “twisting motion” with his upper body. The sheriff’s department has made no effort to describe why Deputy Heurer and Deputy Powe shot Forgash, and they returned to active duty a week later.[37]

28. Ramiro James Villegas (De La Rosa)
22 year old Hispanic male
Shot on November 13, 2014 by Bakersfield PD
Bakersfield, California

Villegas, who went by the name James De La Rosa, was driving erratically on the freeway when officers attempted to pull him over for a traffic stop. De La Rosa led officers on a short chase, but then crashed into a signal pole on an exit ramp. De La Rosa got out of the car and shouted obscenities at the officers, who crouched behind their cars with guns drawn. According to police, De La Rosa then reached for his waistband and was shot by three officers, Frank McIntyre, Valeria Robles and Edgar Aguilera. De La Rosa was unarmed.[38] In February 2015 a shooting review board found the incident fell within federal and state guidelines. In April 2015, an officer was placed on leave for playing with and “tickling” the toes of De La Rosa’s body at the hospital.[39]

29. Ricardo Avelar-Lara
57 year old Hispanic male
Shot on November 16, 2014 by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
East Los Angeles, California

Another victim of a stray bullet from LA County Sheriff’s Department, Ricardo Avelar-Lara was standing behind Eduardo Bermundez when Bermundez pointed his replica handgun at deputies in East Los Angeles early one Sunday morning.  Deputies shot and killed both Bermundez and Avelar-Lara after pulling Avelar-Lara’s vehicle over. [40]

30. Raymond Keith Martinez
51 year old white and Hispanic male
Shot on December 4, 2014 by West Monroe PD
West Monroe, Louisiana

Martinez was a homeless veteran known to officers since he frequently panhandled in front of the store.  He had made a threat to the store owner, so the store owner called police. Security camera video was released in February 2015 showing Officer Jody LeDoux arriving on the scene, gun pointed at Martinez. Martinez does not react at all to whatever LeDoux was saying. He reached his hand down to a newspaper stand. LeDoux spotlit his arm with his flashlight, and then a second later he shot him. The store owner later said he saw a phone near Martinez after he had been shot.[41]  LeDoux, who had a history of aggressive policing, was indicted by a grand jury in January 2015. He faces trial starting on May 19.[42]

31. Charles Gluchacki
65 year old white male
Shot on December 13, 2014 by Riverside County Sheriff’s Department
Perris, California

Gluchacki busted down the door of a home owned by Margaret Fouroux, a 90yo woman. It was raining and he said he came in because he was cold. Fouroux called police, and Gluchacki fell asleep at the kitchen table while they waited for deputies to arrive. When five deputies arrived, guns drawn (Frederick Martinez, Peter Martin, Matthew Gardner, David Chenal, and Brian Hughes), Gluchacki went to the door. He refused orders and wouldn't take his hand out of his pocket, so deputies shot him. The Riverside County Sheriff's Department has not issued a reason for why deputies shot him, but Fouroux regrets calling the police.[43]

32. Henry Castroeno
48 year old Hispanic male
Shot on December 17, 2014 by San Antonio PD
San Antonio, Texas

Castroeno had run over a man at Taco Cabana, killing him. Castroeno drove away from the scene. Officers Rodolfo Lopez and Melissa Gallardo tracked Castroeno down to a nearby neighborhood. When Lopez and Gallardo spotted Castroeno, they ran after him, taking different paths around a house. As Castroeno ran away from Officer Lopez, Lopez fired his weapon. Officer Gallardo didn’t see this but heard the gunshot and assumed it came from Castroeno. When she encountered Castroeno, she shot at Castroeno twice, killing him. Castroeno appeared to be unarmed.[44]

33. Jerame C. Reid
36 year old black male
Shot on December 30, 2014 by Bridgeton PD
Bridgeton, New Jersey

This is another incident where watching the dashcam video is necessary in order to understand the situation.[45] Reid was the passenger in a Jaguar. The driver coasted through a stop sign while making a left turn, and Officers Braheme Days and Roger Worley pulled him over.  When asked to get his driver’s license, either the driver or Reid opened the glove compartment just enough so that Officer Days could see a silver handgun inside. Days freaked out and cussed at everyone to show their fucking hands (similar to the Richard Ramirez incident above). Then Days reached inside and grabbed the handgun out of the glove compartment with his left hand while keeping his own gun in his right hand pointed at the Jaguar's occupants. Reid was suspicious of this officer's aggressive conduct and didn't comply with Days's frequent profane requests to show Days his hands. He told Days "I'm getting out and getting on the ground" three times, trying to open the car door, as Days pushed the door closed and said "no you're not, no you're not!"  Then Days jumped back and let Reid open the door. Reid got two feet out of the car and raised up his hands in front of his body as he stood up. The hands were visible to Officer Days as Days opened fire five times (Worley also fired a single round once he heard Days shoot). Days shot once more as Reid lay on the ground.

It is true that these people (the ones who didn’t get killed by mistaken identity or stray bullets) could have avoided being shot if they had complied with officers’ orders.  But it seems like police officers in these incidents also could have controlled the situation a little better, by calming down, talking respectfully, not drawing a gun as the weapon of first resort, etc. 

Right now we live in a country where non-compliance with an officer’s orders, especially for Hispanic males, can swiftly become a crime punishable by the death penalty.

[1] Cooper, Alexia, and Erica Smith. Homicide Trends in the United States, 1980-2008. Bureau of Justice Statistics, November 16, 2011.
[2] Faherty, Shannon L. (Deputy District Attorney, San Bernardino County, Victorville office). Memorandum on January 11, 2014 OIS Incident. March 21, 2014.
[3] “Arizona Police Shoot Unarmed Surrendering Suspect” (beanbag rounds fired starting at 0:47, fatal gunshots at 0:51)
[4] ADI News Services. “Pinal County Deputy Cleared of Criminal Wrong Doing in January Shooting”. Arizona Daily Independent, June 28, 2014.
[5] Phillips, Noelle. “Federal Heights Officer Cleared in January Shooting at Family Dollar”. Denver Post, May 13, 2014.
[6] Davis, Kristina. “Man Shot by Deputies Drug-Addicted, Bipolar”. San Diego Union-Times, February 1, 2014.
[7] Balko, Radley. “A Rash of Police Shootings in San Diego”. Washington Post, March 3, 2014.
[8] Davis, Kristina. “Sheriff Sued Over Unarmed Felon’s Death”. San Diego Union-Times, March 20, 2015.
[9] “Man Killed in West Covina Area Deputy-Involved Shooting is Identified”. San Gabriel Valley Tribune, February 14, 2014.
[10] O’Rourke, Ciara. “Bastrop Deputy Indicted on Murder Charge After Shooting”. Austin American-Statesman, June 17, 2014.
[11] O’Rourke, Ciara, and Tony Plohetski. “Settlement Reached in Lawsuit over Fatal Shooting by Bastrop Deputy.” Austin American-Statesman, April 21, 2015.
[12] “Man With Machete Fatally Shot by BSO”. WSVN-TV, March 17, 2014.
[13] Brooks, Bobby. “Man With Machete Killed in Deputy-Involved Shooting in Pompano Beach”. NBC Miami, March 18, 2014.
[14] “BSO Identifies Suspect in Deputy-Involved Shooting”. Broward Sheriff’s Office, March 17, 2014.
[15] Norman, Bob. “South Florida Mother Wants Answers in Deputy-Involved Shooting”. Local 10 (WPLG), November 25, 2014.
[16] Ceballos, Ana. “Deputies Cleared in Big Sur Shooting”. Monterey Herald, October 17, 2014.
[17] Bland, Amanda. “Tulsa Police Officer Mark Wollmershauser’s Fatal Shooting of Man Justified, DA Says”. Tulsa World, April 26, 2014.
[18] Anderson, Rick. “L.A. Sheriff’s Deputies Mistakenly Gunned Down John Winkler, But the Story Begins in Seattle”. LA Weekly, March 17, 2015.
[19] Monte, Gabriel. “DPS Officials: California Man Shot by Trooper Tried to Steal Patrol Car”. Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, April 23, 2014.
[20] Bennett, Sara. “LBPD Releases Additional Details as Video of Fatal Officer-Involved Shooting Surfaces”. Long Beach Post, April 29, 2014.
[21] Matas, Kimberly. “Border Agent Cleared in Green Valley Shooting”. Arizona Daily Star, September 10, 2014.
[22] Bentley, Gage. “Pasco Sheriff Explains Killing of Suspect, Who Was Unarmed”. Tampa Bay Times, July 2, 2014.
[23] Blair, Ronnie. “State Attorney Clears Pasco Officers in Zephyrhills Fatal Shooting”. Tampa Tribune, October 1, 2014.
[24] Goffard, Christopher, Catherine Saillant and Cindy Chang. “Frank Al Mendoza, 54”. Los Angeles Times, Homicide Report, August 1, 2014.
[25] Jay, Scott. “Jacorey Calhoun and the Outsourcing of Oakland Police Violence”. The Outsider, February 20, 2015.
[27] Reed, Elizabeth, and Kristen Garcia. “Suspect Shot by Deputy After Ramming Cruiser Identified”. KOB-TV, August 4, 2014.
[28] Perez, Nicole. “Suspect, Deputy Identified in Monday’s Deputy-Involved Shooting”. Albuquerque Journal, August 6, 2014.
[29] Serna, Joseph. “Family of Slain Stockton Bank Robbery Hostage Files Claim Against City”. Los Angeles Times, February 4, 2015.
[30] Alberty, Erin, and Marissa Lang. “DA Says Dillon Taylor Officer-Involved Killing Was Justified”. Salt Lake City Tribune, October 1, 2014.
[31] Dendy, Michelle, Shaun Chaiyabhat and Daniel Dahm. “Orlando Police: Deadly Shot in Nightclub Came From Officer’s Gun.”, August 19, 2014.
[32] Earl, David. “Officers Who Fired in Fatal ‘COPS’ Show Shooting Return to Work”. KETV-TV, September 13, 2014.
[33] Guy, Jim. “Police Shoot, Kill Murder Suspect in Central Fresno”. Fresno Bee, September 16, 2014.
[34] Parascandola, Rocco. “Man Who Tried Saving His Girlfriend From Knife-Wielding Ex-Boyfriend Was Killed by Police Gunshot”. New York Daily News, October 1, 2014.
[35] Sykes, Michael. “Lawsuit Filed Against Deputy Sheriff”. Montgomery County Sentinel, April 15, 2015.
[36] Vives, Ruben. “Deputy Who Fatally Shot Unarmed Man Is Identified”. Los Angeles Times, February 6, 2015.
[37] Burge, Sarah, and Peter Surowski. “Perris: Deputies Involved in Fatal Shooting Identified (Update)”. The Press-Enterprise, November 21, 2014.
[38] Mayer, Steven and Lauren Foreman. “Police Shooting of Unarmed Man Draws Hundreds to Site”. The Bakersfield Californian, November 14, 2014.
[39] Kotowski, Jason. “BPD Officer Under Investigation for Allegedly Manipulating Body of Man Killed in Officer Involved Shooting”. The Bakersfield Californian, April 10, 2015.
[40] Stevens, Matt. “Man Shot Dead by Deputies in East L.A. Had Replica Handgun”. Los Angeles Times, November 17, 2014.
[41] Leader, Barbara. “News-Star First: Watch Officer-Involved Shooting Video”. The News-Star, February 26, 2015.
[42] Lee, Ashley. “Local Resident Donates Tombstone”., May 4, 2015.
[43] Burge, Sarah. “Good Hope: Man Fatally Shot by Deputies Appeared Mentally Ill, Resident Says”. The Press-Enterprise, December 16, 2014.
[44] Wilson, Mark D. “Officers Involved in Fatal West Side Shooting Identified”. San Antonio Express-News, December 19, 2014.
[45] Kent, Spencer. “Dashcam Video Shows Man’s Fatal Encounter with Bridgeton Police”. South Jersey Times, January 20, 2015.

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