The number of police officers charged with murder or manslaughter for on-duty shootings has more than tripled in 2015.
In April, the Washington Post reported that of the thousands of police shootings that have occurred since 2005, just 54 officers were charged—an average of about five officers a year. In the final weeks of 2015, that number has reached 17.
Philip Stinson, the Bowling Green State University criminologist who worked with the Post on its analysis, attributes the increase in murder and manslaughter charges to more video evidence. Ten officers were charged this year based on video of the incidents. Stinson told the Associated Press, “If you take the cases with the video away, you are left with what we would expect to see over the past 10 years—about five cases.” He made the comments in an article published December 4—since then, two more officers have been charged. “You have to wonder if there would have been charges if there wasn’t video evidence,” Stinson, added.
This year, several police shooting incidents have received national media attention. Most recently, the video of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald being shot 16 times by a Chicago police officer last October sparked mass protests in the city and calls for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s resignation. Other videos that received national attention include those that captured the shootings by police of Walter Scott in South Carolina, Eric Harris in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Samuel DuBose in Ohio.
Here is a list of all the police officers charged with murder or manslaughter this year in on-duty shootings. The list is in chronological order, according to when the shootings occurred, and includes videos of incidents that were publicly available. (WARNING: The videos are graphic.) The list does not include the six officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray because he died from a spinal chord injury in a police vehicle.
Sheriff’s Deputy Walter Grant, Bolivar County Sheriff’s Office
Victim: Willie Lee Bingham, 20
What happened: Grant shot Bingham during a foot chase on March 13, 2013. Bingham and several other men were suspected of breaking into cars in an automobile equipment plant, the police say. They fled in a car, and when it stalled, Bingham ran away from the car. Grant shot Bingham once in the back of the head. Grants has said he thought Bingham had a gun.
Status: Grant was fired and indicted on manslaughter charges in March. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Sheriff’s Deputy Peter Peraza, Broward County Sheriff’s Office
Victim: Jermaine McBean, 33
What happened: Peraza shot McBean, a computer systems engineer, on July 31, 2013. McBean was carrying a newly purchased, unloaded pellet gun on the grounds of his apartment complex. Peraza said he ordered McBean several times to drop the gun, and that McBean turned and pointed it at him. A picture of McBean after the shooting showed he had earplugs in when he was shot and may have been unable to hear Pereza.
Status: Peraza was suspended without pay and indicted on a first-degree manslaughter charge in December. He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.
Officer Adam Torres, Fairfax Police Department
Victim: John Geer, 46
What happened: Torres shot Geer, a father of two, once in the chest during a standoff at Geer’s house in August 2013. Geer’s longtime girlfriend had called the police and said Geer was throwing her belongings out of the house during an argument, and that he had guns in the house. When Torres and another officer arrived, Geer was standing in the doorway with a gun holstered at his side, police say. The officers called for backup. Geer put his gun on the ground, as other officers at the scene had asked. Then, Torres shot Geer. According to Torres, “He brought his hands down really quick near his waist.” Witnesses say Geer had his hands up.
Status: Torres was fired and indicted on second-degree murder charges in August. He’s currently being held without bond until his trial begins in April.
Officers Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez, Albuquerque Police Department
State: New Mexico
Victim: James Boyd, 38
What happened: Sandy and Perez shot Boyd, who was homeless and schizophrenic, during a confrontation in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains in March 2014. Police said Boyd was camping there illegally. Boyd brandished two small knives, and the officers unleashed a dog on him and used a flash-bang grenade. They shot him three times each after he reached into his pocket. Boyd died at a hospital after his arm was amputated.
Status: A judge ruled in August that Sandy and Perez would stand trial on second-degree murder charges, but the jury may consider the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter. Both have been fired and face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
Officer James Ashby, Rocky Ford Police Department
Victim: Jack Jacquez, 27
What happened: Ashby shot Jacquez in Jacquez’s kitchen on October 12, 2014. Ashby said he saw Jacquez go to the back entrance of a house—what turned out to be Jacquez’s residence—and thought Jacquez was burglarizing it. Ashby followed Jacquez into the house, where he says Jacquez attempted to swing a baseball bat at him. The coroner said Jacquez was shot in the back—not a position he would have been in if he were winding up for a swing. Jacquez’s mother, who let her son in the house, witnessed the shooting.
Status: Ashby was fired and charged with second-degree murder in February. His trial is set to begin in January.
Officer Jason Van Dyke, Chicago Police Department
Victim: Laquan McDonald, 17
What happened: Van Dyke shot McDonald in October 2014 after responding to a call that McDonald was trying to break into cars. He shot the high school senior 16 times just six seconds after exiting his squad car. Several shots were fired after McDonald was wounded and had already fallen to the ground. Van Dyke said McDonald lunged at him with a knife. Dash-cam footage showed McDonald was turned away from Van Dyke when he was shot. The prosecutor called the shooting “chilling” and “deeply disturbing.”
Status: Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder on November 24. He is being held without bail and faces 20 years to life in prison if convicted.
Officer Peter Liang, New York City Police Department
State: New York
Victim: Akai Gurley, 28
What happened: Liang shot Akai Gurley, father to a then-two-year-old daughter, in a public housing complex in Brooklyn on November 20, 2014. Liang and his partner 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 accidentally discharged, striking Gurley. Phone records show Liang, a rookie officer, texted his union representative to say he had shot someone and did not immediately call for medical help.
Status: Liang was indicted on second-degree manslaughter and other charges in February and released without bail. He faces a minimum sentence of 1 to 3 years in prison and a maximum of 5 to 15 years if convicted. His trial is scheduled to begin on January 7.
Lieutenant Terry Beadles, Pike County Sheriff’s Office
Victim: Troy Boyd, 35
What happened: Beadles shot Boyd on March 15, after responding to a call about a man on a four-wheeler “acting bizarre.” After deputies made contact with Boyd, police say, he tried to run over Beadles. Beadles fired one shot, which caused Boyd to veer down the road and crash. Boyd had several knives and a gun on his person when he was shot.
Status: Beadles was charged with first-degree manslaughter in September and faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. He is free on bond and was placed on unpaid leave.
Sheriff’s Deputy Joel Jenkins, Pike County Sheriff’s Office
Victim: Robert Rooker, 26
What happened: Jenkins shot Rooker after a car chase on March 28. Jenkins’ partner pursued Rooker after he took off during a traffic stop, police say. The chase ended when Rooker veered off the road into a ravine, and Rooker fired his gun.
Status: Jenkins was indicted on first-degree murder and third-degree reckless homicide charges in December.
Officer Michael Slager, North Charleston Police Department
State: South Carolina
Vicitm: Walter Scott, 50
What happened: Slager shot Scott several times in the back as Scott ran from Slager after a traffic stop on April 4. On video, Slager appears to plant a Taser on Scott’s body as he lies bleeding on the ground. A bystander shot video of the the incident on his cell phone.
Status: Slager was charged with first-degree murder in June and faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted. He is being held without bond.
Officer Lisa Mearkle, Hummelstown Police Department
Victim: David Kassick, 59
What happened: Mearkle shot Kassick twice in the back as he lay face down in the snow in February. Kassick ran away during a traffic stop and fell to the ground after Mearkle tased him. Mearkle said Kassick, who was unarmed, reached into his jacket pocket.
Deputy Sheriff Robert Bates, Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office
Victim: Eric Harris, 44
What happened: Bates shot Harris after a foot chase. Harris arranged to sell a gun to undercover officers in a sting operation on April 2, police say. Bates—a volunteer sheriff who prosecutors say did not have the proper training—said he mistook his gun for his Taser and shot Harris accidentally. In the video, Bates can be heard saying “Taser! Taser!” before shooting Harris. Then, “I shot him. I’m sorry.” Another officer can be heard saying, “F–k your breath,” as Harris lay struggling to breathe on the ground.
Status: Bates was charged with second-degree manslaughter in April and released after posting bail. His trial is set for February.
Officer Stephen Rankin, Portsmouth Police Department
Victim: William Chapman, 18
What happened: Rankin shot Chapman in a Walmart parking lot after responding to a shoplifting call on April 22. Rankin said Chapman struggled with him after he approached the teen. An attorney for Chapman’s family said Chapman did not struggle. Rankin shot Chapman in the face and chest.
Status: Rankin was indicted on a first-degree murder charge in September and faces life in prison if convicted. His trial is slated to begin in February.
Officer Ray Tensing, University of Cincinnati Campus Police
Victim: Samuel DuBose, 43
What happened: Tensing shot Samuel DuBose, who has 13 children, in the head during a traffic stop July 19. Tensing says DuBose had a missing license tag. Tensing said he shot DuBose because he attempted to run him over. A video appears to shows that Tensing shot DuBose while the officer was talking to the man, apparently unprompted. The prosecutor has said, “This is the most asinine act I’ve ever seen a police officer make—totally unwarranted.”
Status: Tensing was charged with first-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter in July. He faces a minimum sentence of 3 to 11 years and a maximum of 15 years to life in prison if convicted.
Officers Norris Greenhouse and Derrick Stafford, Louisiana State Police
Victim: Jeremy Mardis, 6
What happened: Greenhouse and Stafford shot Mardis after firing at least 18 rounds into the car his father was driving after a chase on November 3. They pursued Chris Few, Jeremy’s father, after witnessing an argument he had with his girlfriend in front of a local bar. No gun was found in Few’s car, and video appears to show he had his hands up when officers fired their guns. Jeremy was autistic and in first grade.
Status: Greenhouse and Stafford were indicted on second-degree murder and other charges in December and are being held on a $1 million bond. If convicted, they face a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.