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World News

Criminal charges are rare in police killings of Black Americans

(Reuters) - The Kentucky attorney general could announce as soon as today whether police involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor, who was killed during a botched police raid in March, will face criminal charges.

A woman walks on streets that have been blocked and closed to vehicle traffic as the community awaits the findings of the grand jury in the case of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman who was shot dead in her apartment by police, in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. September 22, 2020. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston

The 26-year-old emergency medical technician was one of multiple Black Americans killed by police here in recent years that have sparked a renewed push for civil rights and curbs on police brutality.

Criminal convictions in excessive force cases involving police are rare, in part because of a Supreme Court protected doctrine of qualified immunity, a Reuters investigation here this year showed.

Here is a summary of some of those cases and their outcomes:

MICHAEL BROWN, a Black teen killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014.

Settlement: $1.5 million.

Criminal charges: None.

ERIC GARNER, a Black man who died after repeatedly crying “I can’t breathe” while placed in a chokehold by a New York City cop during an attempted 2014 arrest.

Settlement: $5.9 million.

Criminal charges: None.

TAMIR RICE, a 12-year-old Black boy who was holding a toy gun when shot dead by a Cleveland, Ohio, police officer in 2014.

Settlement: $6 million.

Criminal charges: None.

LAQUAN McDONALD, a 17-year-old African-American, was shot dead by Chicago police as he was walking away from them during an attempted arrest in 2014.

Settlement: $5 million

Criminal charges: A jury found white police officer Jason Van Dyke guilty here of second-degree murder.

FREDDIE GRAY, a Black man who died from injuries he sustained while in handcuffs and leg irons after being thrown into the back of a Baltimore police van in 2015.

Settlement: $6.4 million.

Criminal charges: The six officers criminally charged in Gray’s death were acquitted or the charges were dropped.

WALTER SCOTT, an unarmed black man shot in the back while fleeing on foot from a traffic stop in North Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.

Settlement: $6.5 million.

Criminal charges: The officer pleaded guilty to federal civil rights charges and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

PHILANDO CASTILE, a black man shot and killed during a 2016 traffic stop in a St. Paul, Minnesota, suburb after telling police he had a gun in the vehicle.

Settlement: Close to $3 million.

Criminal charges: A jury acquitted the officer on charges of felony manslaughter and reckless discharge of a firearm.

JUSTINE DAMOND, an unarmed white Australian-American woman shot dead by police who were responding to her 911 call to report a possible rape in 2017.

Settlement: $18 million paid to her family, and $2 million donated to gun violence prevention.

Criminal charges: A jury convicted the Somali-American officer of murder.

STEPHON CLARK, an unarmed Black man killed by Sacramento, California, police in 2018 after they chased him into his grandmother’s back yard.

Settlement: Clark’s two children received $1.2 million each. Claims by other family members are pending.

Criminal charges: None.

ATATIANA JEFFERSON, a Black woman shot dead by a Fort Worth, Texas, cop in 2019 while standing in her home with a handgun after hearing noises outside.

Settlement: No lawsuit filed yet.

Criminal charges: The officer, who resigned, is awaiting trial for murder.

BOTHAM JEAN, a 26-year-old Black PwC accountant, was shot dead by a police officer who accidentally walked into his apartment thinking it was her own in 2018.

Settlement: None

Criminal charges: In 2019, Amber Guyger, the officer, was found guilty of murder and sentenced here to 10 years.

BREONNA TAYLOR, a Black, 26-year-old emergency room technician, was killed on March 13, 2020, by Louisville, Kentucky police executing a no-knock search warrant who burst into her home with a battering ram.

Taylor’s boyfriend fired his gun at the intruders who returned fire, killing Taylor.

Settlement: Louisville paid $12 million here to Taylor's family and agreed to police department reforms to settle a wrongful death suit.

Criminal charges: One officer was terminated here in June, and two others were placed on administrative assignment, a grand jury is deliberating.

GEORGE FLOYD, a 46-year-old Black man who was reported for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill, died on May 25, 2020, while handcuffed after Minneapolis police kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Settlement: A wrongful death suit filed against Minneapolis and four police officers is pending.

Criminal charges: One officer is charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter. Three others have been charged with aiding and abetting.

RAYSHARD BROOKS, a 27-year-old Black man, was shot twice in the back on June 12, 2020, as he ran from Atlanta police and fired a Taser at one officer, a non-deadly weapon he had seized from another officer to escape a drunk-driving arrest.

Settlement: No lawsuit had been filed against Atlanta police as of Aug. 5.

Criminal charges: One Atlanta police officer was fired and charged with murder. A second was placed on administrative duty and charged with aggravated assault. The city’s police chief resigned.

Reporting by Lawrence Hurley, Andrea Januta and Daniel Trotta; Editing by Heather Timmons and Aurora Ellis

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