Top row: Jason Van Dyke; Peter Liang. Bottom row: Dylann Roof; Ray Tensing.
Top row: Scott Olson/Getty Images; Spencer Platt/Getty Images. Bottom row: Charleston County Sheriff’s Office via Getty Images; Grace Beahm-Pool/Getty Images.

Thanks to the efforts of the Black Lives Matter movement and a seemingly never-ending stream of disturbing videos, police brutality was one of the biggest news stories of 2015. A Washington Post investigation found that last year, at least 980 people were shot and killed by police. One in 10 was unarmed, and a disproportionate number of those unarmed victims were black. But in an unusual turn, 18 police officers were indicted in 2015, more than triple the number indicted each year over the past decade.

Even though indictments of police officers were at an all-time high, getting a conviction remained elusive. As the Wall Street Journal noted, not one single police officer was convicted of murder or manslaughter in 2015. Grand juries in the cases of Sandra Bland, John Crawford and Tamir Rice declined to indict anyone in connection with their deaths. And the first trial in the Freddie Gray case ended in a mistrial.


Several high-profile cases—all involving police officers, with the exception of one: the man accused of killing nine church members in South Carolina—are expected to go to trial this year. Here are the details surrounding them, including their status and expected trial dates.

1. Officer Peter Liang, New York City Police Department


What happened: On Nov. 20, 2014, Liang fatally shot 28-year-old Akai Gurley—who was unarmed—in the Pink Houses, a public-housing complex in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. Liang and his partner were entering a building stairwell when Gurley and his girlfriend were going up the same stairwell from the floor below. Liang opened the door to the stairwell with his gun in his hand and it discharged, sending a bullet ricocheting off a wall and striking Gurley in the chest. Phone records show that Liang, a rookie officer, texted his union representative to say that he had shot someone instead of immediately seeking medical help.

Where the case stands: Liang was indicted on and pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and other charges. His trial is set for Jan. 7.

2. Officers William G. Porter, Caesar R. Goodson Jr., Garrett E. Miller, Edward M. Nero; Lt. Brian W. Rice; and Sgt. Alicia D. White, Baltimore Police Department


What happened: On April 19, 2015, Freddie Gray, 25, died after suffering a broken neck and a spinal cord injury he sustained a week earlier after six Baltimore police officers left him handcuffed in the back of a police van without a seatbelt.

Where the case stands: A retrial has been declared for Officer Wlliam G. Porter because of a mistrial, and his new trial is scheduled for June 13. Each of the six officers has pleaded not guilty to the charges.


The remaining five officers will be tried before Porter’s new trial, and they will face various charges, including misconduct, vehicular manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, assault and second-degree murder. Officer Goodson’s trial is set for Jan. 11.

3. Officer Jason Van Dyke, Chicago Police Department


What happened: On Oct. 20, 2014, Officer Jason Van Dyke shot and killed Laquan McDonald, 17, after responding to a call that Laquan was trying to break into cars. He shot Laquan 16 times, just seconds after exiting his squad car. Van Dyke claimed that Laquan lunged at him with a knife; however, dash-cam footage showed that Laquan was turned away from Van Dyke when he was shot.

Where the case stands: A grand jury indicted Van Dyke on six counts of first-degree murder and one of official misconduct. Van Dyke pleaded not guilty to all charges during his arraignment in December. His next court hearing is Jan. 29.

4. Former Officer Ray Tensing, University of Cincinnati Campus Police


What happened: On July 19, 2015, Tensing shot and killed Samuel DuBose, 43, during a traffic stop for a missing license tag. Tensing said he shot DuBose because DuBose had attempted to run him over. A body-cam video appears to show that Tensing shot DuBose while DuBose was moving away from him.

Where the case stands: Tensing was charged with first-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter and pleaded not guilty. All discovery, such as expert witness reports and potential evidence, will be exchanged by Jan. 29, and Tensing’s next pretrial hearing is Feb. 11. A date for the trial could be selected as early as spring.

5. Former Officer Michael Slager, North Charleston Police Department


What happened: On April 4, 2015, Slager fatally shot 50-year-old Walter Scott, an unarmed black man, eight times in the back as he ran away during a traffic stop in North Charleston, S.C. A bystander captured video of the shooting on his cellphone, where Slager appears to plant a Taser on Scott’s body as he lies on the ground bleeding.

Where the case stands: After the video surfaced, Slager was charged with first-degree murder and immediately fired from the North Charleston Police Department. Slager is currently in jail awaiting his trial, which is expected to occur after spring.

6. Dylann Roof, Gunman


What happened: On June 17, 2015, Roof shot nine members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church during Bible study in Charleston, S.C. According to officials, Roof confessed to the massacre, telling investigators that he wanted to provoke a race war.

Where the case stands: This past July, a federal grand jury indicted Roof on 33 federal charges, including hate crime and firearm allegations. He was also arraigned on 13 state charges, including nine for murder, three for attempted murder and one for possessing a weapon during a violent crime.

Roof pleaded not guilty to the federal charges; U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch will decide whether to seek execution in the federal case.


His trial in South Carolina is scheduled for July 11, and the state is seeking the death penalty. The federal trial is expected to occur after the state proceedings.