Timeline of US police killings

The wave of protests in the US over the killing in police custody of George Floyd are the latest outpourings of anger that have erupted after the deaths of black Americans.

Here’s a timeline of some of the major incidents from 2014 onwards.

17 July 2014: Eric Garner

Eric Garner dies after he is wrestled to the ground by a New York police officer on suspicion of illegally selling cigarettes.

While in a choke hold, Mr Garner uttered the words “I can’t breathe” 11 times.

The incident – filmed by a bystander – led to protests across the country. The police officer involved was later fired, but was never prosecuted.

It came a year after the Black Lives Matter movement emerged in response to the acquittal of the man who killed teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida.

9 August 2014: Michael Brown

Michael Brown, 18, is killed by a police officer, in Ferguson, Missouri, who was responding to reports that Brown – who was not armed – had stolen a box of cigars.

The exact circumstances of the encounter are disputed, but Brown was shot six times, according to autopsy reports.

A report by the Department of Justice later concludes that the police force had displayed racial bias against Brown and used excessive force. The officer involved resigns from the force, but is not prosecuted.

The incident leads to multiple waves of protests and civil unrest in Ferguson, boosting the Black Lives Matter movement further.

22 November 2014: Tamir Rice

Tamir Rice, a boy of 12, is shot dead in Cleveland, Ohio by a police officer after reports of a male who was “probably a juvenile” pointing a gun that was “probably fake” at passers by.

Police claimed that they told Rice to drop the weapon – but instead of dropping it he pointed it at police.

The police confirmed that the gun was a toy after Rice had been shot dead.

There were no prosecutions after this case. The police officer involved was sacked three years later for lying on his job application form.

4 April 2015: Walter Scott

Walter Scott is shot in the back five times by a white police officer, who is later fired and eventually sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Mr Scott had been pulled over for having a defective light on his car in North Charleston, South Carolina, and had run away from the officer after a brief scuffle.

The killing sparks protests in North Charleston, with chants of “No justice, no peace”.

5 July 2016: Alton Sterling

Alton Sterling’s death leads to days of protests in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Mr Sterling is killed after police respond to reports of a disturbance outside a shop.

The incident was caught on mobile phone footage and spread online.

The two officers involved did not face criminal charges, but one was dismissed and the other suspended from the police.

6 July 2016: Philando Castile

Philando Castile is killed while out driving with his girlfriend in St Paul, Minnesota.

He is pulled over by the police during a routine check, and tells them he is licensed to carry a weapon, and has one in his possession.

He was shot as he was reaching for his licence, according to his girlfriend.

She live-streamed the encounter on Facebook. The officer involved was cleared of murder charges.

18 March 2018: Stephon Clark

Stephon Clark dies after being shot at least seven times in Sacramento, California, by police who were investigating a break-in.

The district attorney said that the police had not committed a crime, as the officers said they feared for their lives believing Mr Clark was armed.

Only a mobile phone was found at the scene.

The release of a police video of the incident sparked major protests in the city.

13 March 2020: Breonna Taylor

Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician was shot eight times when officers raided her apartment in Louisville, Kentucky.

The police were executing a search warrant as part of a drugs raid, but no drugs were found.

Louisville police said they returned fire after one officer was shot and wounded in the incident. The family has filed a lawsuit for wrongful death and excessive force.

It says that Ms Taylor’s partner fired in self-defence because the police did not identify themselves, and he believed they were being burgled.

25 May 2020: George Floyd

George Floyd dies after being arrested in Minneapolis, and held down by police officers, one of whom has his knee on Mr Floyd’s neck.

He pleaded that he couldn’t breathe.

Protests break out in cities across the US, and there are demonstrations in other parts of the world.

One officer is charged with second-degree murder, and three others face charges of aiding and abetting murder.

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