LAPD Disproportionately Shoots Blacks and the Mentally Ill: Report

Mental illness is a factor in a third of deadly-force cases.

Activists look at a mural of Ezell Ford, a 25-year-old mentally ill black man, at the site where he was shot and killed by two police officers Aug. 11, 2014, in Los Angeles. 
Activists look at a mural of Ezell Ford, a 25-year-old mentally ill black man, at the site where he was shot and killed by two police officers Aug. 11, 2014, in Los Angeles.  David McNew/Getty Images

According to a new report released by the Los Angeles Police Department, police disproportionately shoot at suspects who are black and/or mentally ill. The report, released last week, is the most comprehensive ever compiled by the LAPD, according to CBS News.

The outlet notes that though although African Americans make up 9 percent of Los Angeles’ population, they were shot at by police 35 percent of the time between 2011 and 2015. The number of mentally ill suspects shot has been increasing, representing 37 percent of all people shot in 2015, higher than a comprehensive look at national police killings with guns in 2015 by the Washington Post. Nationally, that report found that mental illness played a part in 25 percent of all shooting incidents.

LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck told the commission Tuesday that he hopes the report informs discourse about police use of force.

“This is the framework upon which we will build a discussion that I think needs to happen not only in L.A. but probably in the whole country,” he said to the Associated Press.

Reports confirm that protesters briefly disrupted the meeting by chanting slogans referencing the Skid Row shooting of the man known as Charly “Africa” Keunang last March. 

The shooting, captured on cellphone video, has been the source of protests, since Keunang, 39, was unarmed. A commission last month ruled that the officers were justified in the killing, reports CBS.

Two LAPD officers were also cleared in the fatal shooting of Ezell Ford, in August 2014. Ford, 25, who was both African American and diagnosed with a mental illness, was unarmed and shot three times.  His death was also the source of protests in the city and beyond. 

Read more at CBS News and the Associated Press.

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