City News Service

Mental Illness a Factor in Third of LAPD Deadly Force Cases

Los Angeles police officers used force on members of the public nearly 2,000 times last year, including 21 people who were fatally shot, according to an LAPD report presented to the Police Commission today.

There were 48 police shootings, including 38 cases in which people -- more than one-third of whom were mentally ill -- were hit, the report found.

The shootings caused the deaths of 21 people.

The 21 fatal shootings by Los Angeles police outpaced the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which had 14; the Houston Police Department, which had 12; and Chicago, which had eight people die from police shootings in 2015, according to the report.

The number of people considered to be mentally ill who were shot by police rose nearly 300 percent from the previous year, a rise department officials called "troubling."

Fourteen of the 38 people shot by police in 2015 "had an indication of mental illness," according to the report.

Half of the 38 people who were shot were carrying a gun, according to the report, and 11 officers were injured in officer-involved shootings.

Department officials emphasized that use of force by LAPD officers is still relatively rare. The 1,924 use-of-force cases in 2015 represented 0.13 percent of the 1.5 million recorded interactions between the public and the police department, according to the report.

Use of force is defined as shootings and other potentially lethal and less-than-lethal encounters with members of the public, such as head strikes, deaths while a person is in custody, the shooting of animals and K-9 contacts with the public that lead to hospitalization.

The report's release came on the one-year anniversary of the fatal police shooting of 39-year-old Charly Keunang, who was known on Skid Row as "Africa." The shooting, which was captured on cell phone video, sparked protests by activists who accused officers of escalating the situation and
killing an unarmed man.

Some protesters briefly disrupted today's Police Commission meeting by chanting slogans referencing Keunang's killing. A small group of protesters also staged a Skid Row-area rally to mark the date.

The Police Commission ruled last month that all the officers involved in the shooting followed department policy in the use of deadly force, although one officer violated policy in the tactics used.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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