The Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) recently released a statistical report on “Officer Involved Shootings in 2012.” Founded in 2007, IPRA is the agency responsible for investigating complaints and allegations of police misconduct, brutality, shootings and abuse by officers of the Chicago Police Department (CPD).
The report, which can be viewed here: Chicago Police officer involved shootings, provides only numerical and statistical information, providing minimal depth and no descriptions or details of the incidents. However, the numbers alone are striking. In 2012, there were 50 incidents of police officers shooting individuals and causing injury, which means a police shooting occurred on average of once a week last year in the city of Chicago.
As a result of these 50 police shootings, 57 individuals were injured and 8 of them were killed. One statistic that remarkably demonstrates the racialized nature of police violence is the number of African-American people shot by Chicago police in 2012. According to the City of Chicago’s own report, Chicago police officers shot 57 individuals in 2012 and 50 of them were black. That means that 87.72% of the people shot by CPD were African-American. Of the remaining seven people injured by police, 3 are identified as “White Hispanic” (Latino), 2 of them are listed as “unknown race” and only 2 of them are identified as “white.” Further demonstrating the way in which African-American males are targeted and victimized by law enforcement, 55 people injured were identified as male (96% of the total number shot).
Another notable aspect of this report is the breakdown of how many police shooting incidents occurred within each district. Officer involved shootings occurred in 14 of the 25 Chicago Police Districts. The most police shootings occurred in the 6th District, with 8 incidents in this South Side district covering parts of the Ashburn Gresham and Chatham neighborhoods. The next highest quantity of police shootings occurred in the 3rd and 4th Districts, with 7 shootings in each. This means that 22 police shootings (44% of the total) in 2012 occurred in three districts that border one another on the far South Side. (View map of CPD Districts)
Unfortunately, due to the lack of information provided in this IPRA report, it is unclear what circumstances led to each of these shootings. However, it is known that in at least some of these cases, the police shot and killed unarmed individuals.
At a time when politicians and the media are discussing gun violence occurring in Chicago and throughout the country, it is important to recognize that police officers, government employees who are sworn to protect all of us, are far too often responsible for the gun violence against civilians.
Victims of police shootings, brutality and abuse who courageously come forward must be supported and civil rights litigation must be employed to advance strategies of justice and social change to improve the conditions for all who live in Chicago. The People’s Law Office continues to encourage and promote government transparency and all efforts to make the Chicago police force more accountable to the public they serve and protect, including providing meaningful disciplinary consequences to those officers who shoot, beat or abuse people. When Chicago Police Department and the Independent Police Review Authority fail to hold police officers accountable, we utilize our skills as civil rights lawyers to file lawsuits on behalf of those abused by police. For more information about the types of cases we handle, view our Practice Areas.
This article is part of People’s Law Office’s ongoing analysis of IPRA and police accountability. Read further analysis here.