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LAPD Reports Shooting 38 People In 2015; A Third Of Cases Involved Mental Illness

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck speaks as his department releases a broad use-of-force report Tuesday. The report says that when LAPD officers fire at suspects, their targets are disproportionately black or mentally ill.

Los Angeles police officers used some type of force nearly 2,000 times last year, according to a new internal report. Officers shot 38 people — killing 21 of them — and more than a third of those shot had an indication of mental illness, the LAPD says.

In the five-year period from 2011 through 2015, LAPD officers shot 52 black suspects, according to the report — meaning that in a city where 9 percent of the population is black, nearly 30 percent of those shot by police were black.

The LAPD report includes a racial breakdown of those killed by police last year:

  • 12 were Hispanic (57 percent)
  • 4 were black (19 percent)
  • 4 were white (19 percent)
  • 1 was Asian/Pacific Islander (5 percent)

Officer-involved shootings rose 60 percent from 2014, the department says, with a total of 48 incidents. (In 10 cases, the suspect wasn't hit by gunfire.)

That total narrowly trails the Chicago Police Department and is more than the shootings reported by police in New York, Houston, Philadelphia, and by the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department.

But the LAPD's killing of 21 suspects was the most in the group, with Chicago reporting that its officers killed eight suspects. The L.A. Sheriff's Department reported 14 killed suspects. Fatality numbers from New York are not available, according to the report.

The use-of-force cases range from police shootings to non-lethal encounters such as Taser usage and people being bitten by a police dog.

The report found that despite a 2 percent drop in the use of non-lethal force from 2014, Taser use rose by 24 percent and the use of shotgun beanbag rounds rose 31 percent.

"Overall, the use of force is rare," Danielle Karson reports for our Newscast unit. "The almost 2,000 cases last year represent less than a percent of the 1.5 million interactions between the public and police."

Danielle also quotes LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, who says the report presents raw data — not interpretations of the statistics.

"There's no why in this report," Beck says. "Just the fact that it has increased and show over time where those increases are. And then that will cause discussions that I think this city and even this nation want to have about use of force."

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