Timeline of Police Murders over Past 50 Years

say their names - fist made of black lives taken by police brutality

List of Americans killed by cops, in chronological order

“Say their names.” You hear it repeated, you try to remember them all, but there are too many names. The onslaught of violence moves faster than we can even document it. I made this timeline of police killings as a mantra, in creating it for you it was a way for me to sit with these names. To honor them, by spending time in creating this list. I may update the timeline with further details, but just to get started I wanted to list as many names as I could find. Black victims, primarily. Black lives that mattered. Say their names. Read their stories.

Elijah McClain last words black lives matter
Last words of Elijah McClain, who was put in a choke hold and suffocated for wearing a mask. McClain was a violinist who would perform at shelters to calm the animals.
Art by JessAndPen

Note how long it takes you just to scroll from one year to the next.

To search for your state, use CTRL +F and search for the two-letter abbreviation for your state.

The list below is in no way exhaustive. Police murders weren’t even kept track of in America until shamed into doing so by The Guardian’s The Counted Project. They documented over 2,000 Americans killed by police in 2015 and 2016. It took a UK newspaper covering police murders to get America to even start keeping count. The list of people killed by police below is simply the ones who ended up in the news. Cases that seem less like self-defense, and more like murder. It doesn’t include those who were shot or injured by police but managed to survive. It only covers American police. It doesn’t include the countless acts of police brutality that go unreported. There are many more reported murders in recent years, as cell phone cameras have become commonplace. No doubt, there are just as many murders in the years previous, that have been lost to history. And yet, you scroll, and scroll, and on the list goes on.

Note: The sections highlighted in this yellow are outcomes: whether the officers involved were fired, faced charges, or if there were any consequences for their actions.

If the list below makes you angry, here’s a guide on how to organize.

Chronological List of (Reported) Police Homicides from 1968-2020

There Are About 1,000 *Documented Police Killings Every Year. Here Are Some We Know About

June 12,2020

Rayshard Brooks shot twice in the back by Atlanta, GA, police

“I got him!” the prosecutor quoted Rolfe as saying. A second officer, Devin Brosnan, 26, stood on Brooks’ shoulder as he struggled for his life.

Police had been called to the restaurant over complaints of a car blocking the drive-thru lane.

Surveillance Video of Shooting of Rayshard Brooks

Shooter Garrett Rolfe was fired and charged with murder. He’s launched a counter suit against the mayor.

June 12,2020

June 1, 2020

May 25, 2020

George Floyd asphyxiated by Minneapolis, MN police

Powderhorn, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Full unedited footage of George Floyd calling for his mother as onlookers beg police to stop

May 25, 2020

March 3, 2020

Manuel Ellis asphyxiated by police in Tacoma, WA

“The police don’t even have a legitimate explanation for why they approached him in the first place,” James Bible, attorney for the Ellis Family said at a conference announcing the suit. “The ones that they have given are ever-changing and ever-shifting…The Tacoma Police Department did everything it could to hide information”

March 3, 2020

February 23, 2020

Ahmaud Marquez Arbery lynched by Glenn county GA police

Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr., arrested and charged with murder.

February 23, 2020

October 12, 2019

August 24, 2019

Elijah McClain drugged and choked by police and EMTs in Aurora, CO

McClain wore a ski mask because his anemia made him cold. For this, police put him in a choke hold. They called the first responders “Due to the level of physical force applied while restraining the subject and his agitated mental state.” At the urging of police, they gave him an anesthetic, Ketamine. He arrived at the hospital bruised and brain dead.

Body Cam Footage of the Murder of Elijah McClain (WARNING: GRAPHIC)

This footage wasn’t released until months after his death. All three officers had “dropped” their body cams, but you can hear audio, including one cop telling them to hide the camera.

The officers were placed on administrative leave and have returned to duty. However, protest of George Floyd has brought back interest in the case. There has been a ban on carotid holds, the neck grip that killed McClain.

August 24, 2019

October 17, 2018

October 3, 2018

Chinedu Okobi electrocuted by taser by San Mateo, CA, sherrif sergeant and deputies

, February 13, 1982 –

Millbrae, California

October 3, 2018

September 6, 2018

March 18, 2018

February 8, 2017

October 18, 2016

September 27, 2016

September 16, 2016

September 11, 2016

August 1, 2016

Korryn Gaines shot by Randallstown, MD police

Gaines pointed a shotgun at police, so it is within the legal use of force matrix for police to shoot her. However, it seems clear that her only interest was for them to go away, and that police needlessly escalated the situation. Her mother was present, and begged to be allowed to talk to her, but was not. Moreover, Maryland PD is supposed to bring a mental health counselor for those in crisis, and police didn’t bother with this either. Gaines suffered from lead poisoning, so she had a disadvantage in comprehending and reacting to the situation.
In a video Gaines took during the event, she asked her son what the police wanted. He replied “They trying to kill us.” She then asked: “Do you want to go out there?” “No,” he said. She then asked “What’d you wanna do?” In response to his confusion and silence Gaines said, “there is no wrong answer.”

In the shootout, Gaines’ five-year-old son, Kodi, was shot by police. Gaines’ family later reported police did not allow them to visit him in the hospital.

All of this tragedy because she was driving without a proper license plate.

No charges were filed. Gaines’ family won a civil lawsuit, but lost it on appeal.

August 1, 2016

July 11, 2016

July 6, 2016

Philando Castile shot by St. Anthony, MN police officer

Falcon Heights, Minnesota

July 6, 2016

December 26, 2015

December 26, 2015

November 15, 2015

September 23, 2015

September 5, 2015

July 10, 2015

Sandra Bland Dies in police custody after a traffic stop in Waller County, TX

Sandra’s video she took of the incident before the police took her to her untimely end.

July 10, 2015

May 5, 2015

April 30, 2015

April 4, 2015

Walter Scott shot by North Charleston, SC police officer

Scott was shot in the back at a traffic stop.

Walter Scott, killed by police

The cop who shot Scott has been charged with murder.

April 4, 2015

March 31, 2015

Phillip White mauled by K-9 and died in police custody in Vineland, NJ

Video of Phillip White being attacked by police dogs

March 31, 2015

February 18, 2015

December 30, 2014

Jerame Reid shot at a routine traffic stop by Bridgeton, NJ police officer

Reid was unarmed with his hands up. The cop who shot him, also African-American, has been accused of criminal activity before, including pepper spraying someone in handcuffs and extorting sex from a suspect.

After two investigations, a grand jury elected to bring no charges.

December 30, 2014

December 23, 2014

December 2, 2014

November 20, 2014

October 20, 2014

August 12, 2014

August 11, 2014

July 17, 2014

Eric Garner suffocated by NYC police officer

Staten Island, New York

July 17, 2014

March 2, 2014

Victor White III shot by Iberia Parish, LA Sheriff Deputy

Police allege White shot himself in the back with his own gun while handcuffed in the rear of a squad car. When White’s father viewed the body, he saw the marks of a beating. His family denies he committed suicide.

March 2, 2014

February 16, 2014

September 14, 2013

December 2, 2012

Darnisha Harris shot to death by Breaux Bridge, LA

Police arrived to the scene of a disturbance at the same time Harris was trying to get away from the fight. In her panic, her car hit a police car, a parked car and then a bystander. Police shot into her car. Witnesses say she was shot with her hands in the air. She was 16.

Guillot, the shooting officer had numerous prior accusations of misconduct, including shooting a dog while on patrol, fondling female inmates and alleged improper treatment of an inmate who died in custody.

A grand jury declined to indict Guillot.

December 2, 2012

November 29, 2012

Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams shot 23 times by Cleveland, OH police

Cleveland police shot 137 Rounds into Timothy Russell hitting him 23 times.

November 29, 2012

October 4, 2012

April 12, 2012

Tamon Robinson run over by police car in Brooklyn NY

The police report claims that Robinson ran at their cars and fell and hit his head, despite two witnesses saying that the police car ran into him.

Two years later, the City of New York paid a $2 million settlement to the Robinson family in a wrongful death lawsuit. The police who drove the patrol car were declared not responsible for Robinson’s death.

April 12, 2012

March 21, 2012

Rekia Boyd was shot by an off-duty detective in Chicago, IL

The detective fired over his shoulder into their group of friends. Boyd was killed instantly but despite doing nothing wrong, police arrested Boyd’s friend, whom the detective had also shot in the hand with his reckless fire.

March 21, 2012

March 7, 2012

Wendell Allen Shot by Police in his home in front of his family in New Orleans, LA

Within seconds of entering his home, in the presence of children, Wendell Allen was shot in the chest and killed. Later police claimed Allen had attacked them, but a secret video recording proved otherwise.

March 7, 2012

February 2, 2012

January 29, 2010

July 11, 2009

Shem Walker shot by undercover police officer in Brooklyn, NYC

A man was sitting on the front porch of Walker’s elderly mother’s house and refused to move. Walker attempted to move the man by force, throwing a punch. The strange man was a police officer, and he felt entitled to end Walker’s life rather than identify himself. The police claimed Walker reached for his gun, but witnesses dispute this, saying the incident only lasted a “few seconds” before the cop fired three bullets.

Army veteran Shem Walker

Walker’s family won a $2 million dollar settlement. The officer was not charged with a crime.

July 11, 2009

January 4, 2008

November 25, 2006

September 4, 2005

March 16, 2000

December 28, 1998

Tyisha Miller shot by Riverside police

Tyisha Miller had been drinking with friends when she got a flat tire. She passed out with a gun in her lap, and when her friends arrived to assist, they were unable to wake her so they called 911. Because she had a gun, the police came as well. Since the medics couldn’t get into her car, the police broke the glass of her window, startling her awake. Fearing Miller’s reaction meant she intended to shoot them, they riddled her barely conscious body with bullets.

https://www.salon.com/1999/02/08/cov_08news_2/

In January 2002, the Culver City arbitrator found that the officers had been wrongly fired and that the decision to terminate their employment constituted an “abuse of administrative discretion”. He awarded them full back-pay, but did not order them to be reinstated.

December 28, 1998

March 22, 1997

Frankie Ann Perkins strangled to death by police in Chicago, IL

Police claimed she was stopped for drugs, but no drugs were ever found on the scene. Witnesses in the neighborhood were harassed to keep them from testifying against the police.

The police Office of Professional Standards found “no criminal wrongdoing” by the officers. The City of Chicago settled a lawsuit with the family for $637,000.

March 22, 1997

September 27, 1994

November 3, 1991

September 15, 1983

January 3, 1979

Eula Mae Love was sprayed with bullets by Los Angeles, CA police officers

After the recent loss of her husband, Love was unable to support her family. Police came because Love was late on her gas bill, and chased off the gas man. On her way to pay the bill, the police arrived. She did not want to let them in, and brandished a knife. When she tossed the knife at them, they filled her with lead.

The two police officers involved in the shooting were exonerated on April 17, 1979

January 3, 1979

November 25, 1976

Randolph Evans, aged 15, shot in the head by a New York City police officer in Brooklyn, NY

On Thanksgiving, Officer Torsney confronted a group of youths, in response to a report of a gun in the area. After a brief conversation, Torsney shot high school freshman Randy Evans, point-blank in the head.

After shooting Evans, Torsney made no effort to check on the boy’s condition but instead walked to his patrol car, got in, removed the spent cartridge from his weapon, and calmly replaced it with another bullet. Torsney’s partner, asked, “What did you do?” Torsney responded, “I don’t know, Matty. What did I do?”

Torsney was indicted by a grand jury on charges of second-degree murder. His defense maintained that the killing resulted from a psychotic episode due to “automatism of Penfield.” Torsney was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Torsney was remanded to Creedmoor Psychiatric Center.
On December 20, 1978, a Brooklyn State Supreme Court ordered Torsney’s release, stating he no longer posed a threat to society.

November 25, 1976

January 27, 1973

I’m indebted to scholar Renee Ater for seeding the content for this list.

* The Above List of Police Killings Is Only a Sample!

Police aren’t required to gather data on officer killings, so less than a third of them are reported. Below are some resources, but most of these are civilian efforts tracking news stories, not internal data from law enforcement.

For an academic analysis of the limits of gathering information on people killed by police, see this critical analysis of police officers initiated homicide data [PDF] to understand how the events and evidence surrounding a life taken become represented as a metric imbued with rhetorical power.

Learn More About Police Homicides

Map of 2019 Police Homicides

Map Provided by killedbypolice.net

Say Their Names art adapted from a design by GloryGiftsBoutique

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