According to Killed By Police, an online database of fatal encounters between cops and civilians, more than 75 people died at the hands of police in February. Many of the incidents involved violent actions on the part of the deceased, yet fatalities come at a time when tensions between officers and civilians is at a fever pitch. Without question, officers who put their lives on the line to ensure public safety are thrust into high-intensity scenarios, and often have to make split-second decisions. But research shows that mentally ill people and minorities are disproportionately killed — and that fact lies at the heart of national outrage.
Over the past few decades, there’s been a widely-criticized dearth of national data on the number of people killed by officers, and in light of protests and and calls for police reform, the website has become one of the most comprehensive lists to date. However, Killed By Police does not include violent but non-fatal interactions with officers who used excessive force.
Each month, ThinkProgress will roundup some of the egregious cases that drew national attention.
1. Sureshbhai Patel; Madison, AL: A grandfather visiting from India was taking a stroll around his family’s neighborhood, before he was tackled to the ground by Officer Eric Parker. Videos from two dashcams show Parker and Officer Andrew Slaughter (a trainee) ask Patel where he lives several times, even though it is evident that Patel is unable to speak English. Patel points and tries to walk in the direction of his family’s home, before he is handcuffed. After restraining Patel, Parker slams him to the ground. The 57-year-old was partially paralyzed and unable to walk after the incident.
The two officers were allegedly following up on a call they received about an unfamiliar-looking “skinny black guy.” Police Chief Larry Muncey later declared that Parker’s actions were not justified, and Governor Robert Bentley issued a formal apology to the Indian government days later. A civil rights lawsuit against Parker and the City of Madison is pending.
2. Antonio Zambrano-Montes; Pasco, WA: The town of Pasco is still reeling from the death of Antonio Zambrano-Montes, who was shot at 17 times by police officers. Zambrano-Montes, a 35-year-old orchard worker, allegedly threw rocks at officers after they approached him for throwing rocks at vehicles. Videos caught on several witnesses’ cell phones show (unarmed) Zambrano-Montes fleeing across a busy intersection, before he’s shot dead by three officers. Although there’s dispute as to how many bullets actually hit him, a private autopsy concluded that he was shot from behind.
The largely immigrant population of Pasco erupted in protests after Zambrano-Montes’ death, with many comparing the deadly encounter to the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson. Latin American activists argue that this particular case is viewed as a boiling point, after years of tension with local police officers.
NBC News later published raw video of the shooting:
LIVE – NBCNews offsiteEdit descriptionplayer.theplatform.com3. Bruce Laclair; Ft. Lauderdale, FL: Late February, a Youtube video surfaced of Officer Victor Ramirez slamming Bruce Laclair, a homeless man, to the ground. A bystander filmed Ramirez yelling at Laclair to get off of the ground, while Laclair repeatedly said that he needed to pee. The officer subsequently slaps Laclair in the face, yelling, “I’m not fucking around with you. Don’t fucking touch me.”
Laclair was allegedly approached for trespassing at a bus station. He was arrested at the scene and released later that day, while Ramirez was suspended with pay. The incident highlighted the ongoing criminalization of the city’s homeless population.
Watch the video below: