Depending on the database you’re looking at, police have killed between 385 and 464 people in 2015. According to Killed By Police, a comprehensive list of the names, ages, gender, and race of people killed by law enforcement, officers took the lives of 73 people in May alone.
Although the number is the lowest monthly figure this year (see tallies from February, March, and April), police violence still took center stage. The non-guilty verdict of Officer Michael Brelo reignited national outrage over the lack of police accountability, as none of the 13 officers who shot 137 times at two unarmed black people received criminal charges. Moreover, the biker shootout in Waco, Texas highlighted the discrepancies in police force used against black people and their non-black counterparts — and how lawmakers talk about race and gun violence.
Black women were also put in the spotlight in May. That police are 21 more times likely to kill young black men than young white men is an oft-cited statistic, but cisgender and transgender women killed by police are often overlooked, forgotten, and erased from #BlackLivesMatter conversations. To change the narrative, a coalition of grassroots activist groups, including the Black Youth Project 100 and African American Policy Forum, organized the #SayHerName campaign. On May 21, hundreds took to the streets — and social media — to highlight black women who died at the hands of law enforcement officers.
Looking beyond the verdict and campaign, here are two high-profile police shootings that occurred last month:
Brendon Glenn: Venice, CA: Cops were called to investigate a homeless man who was “harassing customers” outside of an establishment, one Tuesday night. When they arrived at the scene, two officers talked to Glenn, a 29-year-old black man, who was allowed to walk away, unscathed. However, the two officers noticed him physically confronting another person soon after their talk, and attempted to detain him. A physical skirmish ensued, before one of the officers deployed his weapon. Glenn, who was unarmed, died at a local hospital. After the incident, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck viewed footage from a nearby security camera and admitted that the circumstances did not justify deadly force. Both officers have been removed from the field.
Andre Thompson and Bryson Chaplin; Olympia, WA: Police were sent to investigate a robbery attempt, after two men tried to steal beer and threw bottles at store employees who confronted them. Officer Ryan Donald says he approached two skateboarders, Thompson and Chaplin, on the street, because they fit the description of the burglary suspects. Donald claims that when he got out of his vehicle, one of the men attacked him with a skateboard, which is when he first fired his gun. Thompson and Chaplin allegedly ran into a wooded area, before returning to confront the officer. Next, Donald radioed in for backup, saying he had the two at gunpoint, before reporting that both had been shot in the torso. Thompson and Chaplin, who were both unarmed, survived serious injuries. Olympia Police Chief Ronnie Roberts later said officers have “the right to defend” themselves.