Controversial police encounters fast facts
Here’s a look at controversial police encounters in the news.
1991 – Los Angeles – Rodney King March 3, 1991 – Motorist Rodney King is beaten by LAPD officers after King leads police on a high-speed chase through Los Angeles County. George Holliday videotapes the beating from his apartment balcony. The video shows King being struck by police batons more than 50 times. Over 20 officers are present at the scene, mostly from the LAPD. King suffers 11 fractures and other injuries.
March 15, 1991 – Sergeant Stacey Koon and officers Laurence Michael Powell, Timothy Wind, and Theodore Briseno are indicted by a Los Angeles grand jury in connection with the beating.
May 10, 1991 – A grand jury refuses to indict 17 officers who stood by at the King beating and did nothing.
April 29, 1992 – The four LAPD officers are acquitted of beating King. Riots break out at the intersection of Florence and Normandie in South Central Los Angeles. Governor Pete Wilson declares a state of emergency and calls in the National Guard. Riots in the next few days leave more than 50 people dead and nearly $1 billion in damages.
May 1, 1992 – Rodney King makes an emotional plea for calm,”People, I just want to say, can we all get along? Can we get along? Can we stop making it horrible for the older people and the kids?”
August 4, 1992 – A federal grand jury returns indictments against Koon, Powell, Wind, and Briseno on the charge of violating Rodney King’s civil rights.
April 16, 1993 – The federal jury convicts Koon and Powell on one charge of violating King’s civil rights. Wind and Briseno are found not guilty. No disturbances follow the verdict.
August 4, 1993 – U.S. District Court Judge John Davies sentences both Koon and Powell to 30 months in prison. Powell is found guilty of violating King’s constitutional right to be free from an arrest made with “unreasonable force.” Koon, the ranking officer, is convicted of permitting the civil rights violation to occur.
April 19, 1994 – The court awards King $3.8 million in compensatory damages in a civil lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles. King had demanded $56 million, or $1 million for every blow struck by the officers.
June 1, 1994 – King is awarded $0 in punitive damages in a civil trial against the police officers. He had asked for $15 million.
1997 – New York – Abner Louima August 9, 1997 – Abner Louima, a 33 year old Haitian immigrant, is arrested for interfering with officers trying to break up a fight in front of the Club Rendez-vous nightclub in Brooklyn. Louima alleges, while handcuffed, police officers led him to the precinct bathroom where he was sodomized with a plunger or broomstick.
August 15, 1997 – Police officers Justin Volpe and Charles Schwarz are charged with aggravated sexual abuse and first-degree assault.
August 16, 1997 – Thousands of angry protesters, many waving toilet plungers, gather outside Brooklyn’s 70th Precinct to demonstrate against what they say is a long-standing problem of police brutality against minorities. Throughout the day, protesters, many of them Haitian, taunt police, chanting, “No justice, no peace.” At some times, protesters stand toe to toe with officers watching the protest from behind a barricade, and call the officers racist and fascist.
February 26, 1998 – Volpe, Bruder, Schwarz, Wiese are indicted on federal civil rights charges in Louima’s case. A fifth officer, Michael Bellomo, is accused of helping the others cover up the alleged beating, as well as an alleged assault on another Haitian immigrant, Patrick Antoine, the same night.
May 1999 – Volpe pleads guilty to beating and sodomizing Louima. He is later sentenced to 30 years in prison.
June 8, 1999 – Schwarz is convicted of beating Louima, then holding him down while he was being tortured. Wiese, Bruder, and Bellomo are acquitted. Schwarz is later sentenced to 15 and a half years in prison.
March 6, 2000 – Charles Schwarz, Thomas Wiese, and Thomas Bruder are convicted for conspiring to obstruct justice by covering up the attack.
July 12, 2001 – Louima receives $8.75 million in a settlement agreement with the City of New York and the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.
February 28, 2002 – The U.S. Second Court of Appeals overturns the convictions of former officers Schwarz, Wiese, and Bruder on the obstruction of justice charges.
1999 – New York – Amadou Diallo February 4, 1999 – New York Police officers mistake Amadou Diallo’s wallet he held in his hand for a hand gun. He is fired upon 41 times and is struck 19 times, by police officers Sean Carroll, Edward McMellon, Kenneth Boss, and Richard Murphy, members of the elite crimes unit.
March 24, 1999 – More than 200 people are arrested outside New York City’s police headquarters, the most in one day in what has become almost daily protests since Diallo’s fatal shooting.
March 25, 1999 – A Bronx grand jury votes to indict the four officers for second degree murder.
February 25, 2000 – The officers are acquitted of state murder charges.
January 2001 – The U.S. Justice Department announces it will not pursue federal civil rights charges against the officers.
January 2004 – Diallo’s family settles a wrongful death law suit for $3 million dollars.
2005 – New Orleans – The Danziger Bridge shootings September 4, 2005 – Six days after Hurricane Katrina devastates the area, New Orleans police officers receive a radio call that two officers are down under the Danziger vertical-lift bridge. According to the officers, people were shooting at them and they returned fire.
— Brothers Ronald and Lance Madison and four members of the Bartholomew family are shot by police officers. Ronald Madison, 40, who is mentally disabled, and James Brisette, 17 (some sources say 19), are fatally wounded.
December 28, 2006 – Police Sgts. Kenneth Bowen and Robert Gisevius and officers Robert Faulcon and Anthony Villavaso are charged with first-degree murder. Officers Robert Barrios, Michael Hunter and Ignatius Hills are charged with attempted murder.
August 2008 – State charges against the officers are thrown out.
July 12, 2010 – Four officers are indicted on federal charges of murdering Brissette: Bowen, Gisevius, Faulcon, and Villavaso. Faulcon is also charged with Madison’s murder. Bowen, Gisevius, Faulcon, and Villavaso, along with Arthur Kaufman and Gerard Dugue are charged with covering up the shooting.
April 8, 2010 – Former officer Michael Hunter pleads guilty in federal court of covering up the police shooting. He is sentenced in December to 8 years in prison.
August 5, 2011 – The jury finds five officers guilty of civil rights and obstruction charges: Kenneth Bowen, Robert Gisevius, Robert Faulcon, Anthony Villavaso, and Arthur Kaufman.
October 5, 2011 – Ignatius Hills receives a six and a half year sentence for his role in the shooting.
April 4, 2012 – A federal judge sentences five former police officers to prison terms ranging from six to 65 years for the shootings of unarmed civilians. Faulcon receives 65 years. Bowen and Gisevius both receive 40 years. Villavaso receives 38 years. Kaufman was not involved in the shooting, just the cover up, so he received a lighter sentence than the others.
March 2013 – After a January 2012 mistrial, Dugue’s trial is indefinitely delayed.
September 17, 2013 – Bowen, Gisevius, Faulcon, Villavaso, and Kaufman are awarded a new trial.
2006 – New York – Sean Bell November 25, 2006 – Sean Bell, 23, dies in a 50-bullet barrage by police outside a Queens nightclub — hours before he is to be married. Two of his companions, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield, are wounded in the gunfire.
December 2006 – Rev. Al Sharpton leads a rally in Manhattan, “Shopping for Justice,” to protest the shooting.
March 2007 – Three of the five officers involved in the shooting are indicted: Detectives Gescard F. Isnora and Michael Oliver are charged with manslaughter, and Michael Oliver is charged with reckless endangerment.
April 25, 2008 – The three officers are acquitted on all charges.
February 16, 2010 – The Department of Justice announces that it will not pursue federal civil rights charges against the police officers.
July 27, 2010 – New York City settles a lawsuit for more than $7 million filed by Bell’s family and two of his friends.
2009 – Oakland, California – Oscar Grant January 1, 2009 – Oscar Grant, an unarmed 22-year-old, is shot in the back while he is lying face-down on a platform at the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland, by San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit officer Johannes Mehserle.
January 7, 2009 – Footage from station KTVU shows demonstrators rampaging through the streets of Oakland protesting Grant’s death. About 105 people are arrested, for charges which include inciting a riot, vandalism, assault on a police officer and unlawful assembly. Some protesters lie on their stomachs, saying they were showing solidarity with Grant, who was shot in the back.
January 27, 2010 – The Bay Area Rapid Transit train system reaches a $1.5 million settlement over Grant’s death, filed by the mother of Grant’s young daughter.
July 8, 2010 – A jury finds Mehserle guilty of involuntary manslaughter. At the trial, Mehserle says that he intended to draw and fire his Taser rather than his gun.
November 5, 2010 – Mehserle is sentenced to two years in prison. He will be able to apply his 292 days of credit and can be released in as little as seven months. Outraged by the light sentence, protests that night turn violent.
June 2011 – Mehserle is released.
July 30, 2013 – A federal appeals court rejects Mehserle’s claim of immunity. This allows Grant’s father to file a civil lawsuit against Mehserle.
July 7, 2014 – The federal jury rules against Grant’s father’s civil lawsuit and awards no damages.
2011 – Fullerton, California – Kelly Thomas July 5, 2011 – Fullerton, California, police officers respond to a call about a homeless man looking into car windows and pulling on handles of cars. Surveillance camera footage shows Thomas being beaten, clubbed and stunned with a Taser by police. The video sparks a nationwide outcry. Thomas, who is mentally ill, dies five days later, and his death is ruled a homicide.
May 9, 2012 – Officer Manuel Ramos is charged with second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, and Cpl. Jay Patrick Cicinelli is charged with involuntary manslaughter and felony use of excessive force.
May 16, 2012 – The City of Fullerton, California, awards $1 million to Thomas’ mother, Cathy Thomas.
January 13, 2014 – A jury acquits former officers Ramos and Cicinelli.
2014 – New York – Eric Garner July 17, 2014 – Eric Garner, 43, dies after Officer Daniel Pantaleo tackles him to the ground in a department-banned chokehold during an arrest for allegedly selling cigarettes illegally. “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” Garner, who has asthma, says repeatedly while restrained on the ground by several police officers. The incident is videotaped on a cellphone.
August 1, 2014 – The New York City Medical Examiner rules Garner’s death a homicide.
December 3, 2014 – A grand jury decides not to indict Pantaleo. Protesters pour onto the streets of New York and other cities, including Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Oakland, California, chanting in unison some of Eric Garner’s last words, “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!”
July 14, 2015 – New York settles with Eric Garner’s estate for $5.9 million.
2014 – Ferguson, Missouri – Michael Brown August 9, 2014 – During a struggle, a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, fatally shoots unarmed 18 year old Michael Brown.
August 9-10, 2014 – Approximately 1,000 demonstrators protest Brown’s death. The Ferguson-area protest turns violent, and tear gas and rubber bullets are used to disperse the crowd.
August 15, 2014 – Police identify the officer as 28 year old Darren Wilson. Wilson was put on paid administrative leave after the incident, and he is required to undergo two psychological evaluations before returning to duty. Governor Jay Nixon decides to put the Missouri State Highway Patrol in charge of security.
August 18, 2014 – Governor Jay Nixon calls in the Missouri National Guard to protect the police command center.
November 24, 2014 – The grand jury does not indict Darren Wilson for Brown’s shooting. Documents show that Wilson fired his gun 12 times. Protests erupt after the hearing in Ferguson and nationwide.
November 29, 2014 – Darren Wilson resigns from the Ferguson police force.
March 11, 2015 – Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson resigns, a week after a scathing Justice Department report slams his department.
April 23, 2015 – The family of Michael Brown files a civil lawsuit against the city of Ferguson.
August 9-10, 2015 – The anniversary observations of Brown’s death are largely peaceful during the day Sunday. But after dark police say a teen shoots at officers who return fire, businesses are damaged and tense standoffs between officers and protesters occur. On Monday, a state of emergency is declared and fifty-six people are arrested during a demonstration at a St. Louis courthouse.
2015 – North Charleston, South Carolina – Walter Scott April 4, 2015 – Officer Michael Slager fires eight shots at 50-year-old Walter Scott. Scott, who is unarmed, is killed. The officer initially says he used a Taser gun on Scott and that Scott grabbed his Taser. Slager had pulled Scott over for a broken tail light.
April 7, 2015 – Cell phone video of the incident is released to the public. It shows Scott, with his back to Slager, running away. Slager is charged with first-degree murder.
April 8, 2015 – Though it’s unknown if race was a factor, protesters at the city hall in North Charleston wear T-shirts that read “Black Lives Matter,” and chant the phrase that became popular after several police-involved killings of black men around the country.
September 10, 2015 – Slager’s attorneys make the case for him to be released on bond, after court documents reveal new details from the toxicology report, blood analysis, and Taser data.
September 14, 2015 – Slager is denied bond.
October 8, 2015 – The North Charleston City Council approves a $6.5 million settlement with the family of Walter Scott.
January 4, 2016 – Slager is granted $500,000 cash bond.
2015 – Baltimore – Freddie Gray April 12, 2015 – 25-year-old Freddie Gray is arrested on a weapons charge after he is found with a knife in his pocket. Witness video of the arrest records him screaming as officers carry him to the prisoner transport van. After arriving at the police station, he is transferred to a trauma clinic with a severe spinal injury. He falls into a coma and dies one week later.
April 21, 2015 – The names of six officers involved in the arrest are released. Lt. Brian Rice, 41, Officer Caesar Goodson, 45, Sgt. Alicia White, 30, Officer William Porter, 25, Officer Garrett Miller, 26, and Officer Edward Nero, 29, have all been suspended.
April 24, 2015 – Baltimore police acknowledge Freddie Gray did not get timely medical care after he was arrested and was not buckled into a seat belt while being transported in a police van.
April 27, 2015 – Protests turn into riots as looting and fires engulf Baltimore on the day of Gray’s funeral. At least 20 officers are injured as police and protesters upset over Gray’s death clash on the streets, as video shows police in riot gear taking cover behind an armored vehicle, as protesters pelt them with rocks. Gov. Larry Hogan’s office declares a state of emergency and activates the National Guard to address the unrest.
May 21, 2015 – A Baltimore grand jury indicts six officers in the death of Freddie Gray. The officers now face a range of charges from involuntary manslaughter to reckless endangerment. The driver of the transport van, Caesar Goodman, will face the the most severe charge, of second-degree depraved-heart murder.
September 10, 2015 – Judge Barry Williams denies the defendants’ motion to move the Freddie Gray trials out of Baltimore, a day after officials approve a $6.4 million deal to settle all civil claims tied to Gray’s death.
November 30, 2015 – Officer William Porter, the first of six city police officers, goes on trial. Porter is charged with manslaughter, assault and reckless endangerment. The Baltimore jury is comprised of eight women, five black and three white, and four men, three black and one white. The alternates are three white men and one black man.
December 7, 2015 – A juror is dismissed due to a medical emergency. The jury is now comprised of seven women, four black and three white, and five men, three black and two white. The alternates are two white men and one black man.
December 16, 2015 – A mistrial is declared in Porter’s case after jurors say they are deadlocked.
2015 – Chicago – Laquan McDonald October 20, 2014 – Laquan McDonald, 17, is shot and killed by a Chicago police officer. McDonald had a 3-inch knife and, according to toxicology tests, had PCP in his system. But he wasn’t within 10 feet of anyone at the time the shots rang out. Several other officers were at the scene, and none fired any shots. A police officer told McDonald to drop the knife, but he didn’t listen and the officer fired on him out of fear for his life, according to a police union spokesman. Later, an autopsy shows McDonald was shot 16 times.
April 13, 2015 – Authorities announce that a joint investigation into McDonald’s death will be conducted by federal and state authorities, spearheaded by the Chicago branch of the FBI.
April 15, 2015 – The city reaches a settlement with McDonald’s family, agreeing to pay $5 million, though the family had not filed a lawsuit.
November 19, 2015 – A judge in Chicago orders the city to release the police dashcam video that shows the shooting. For months, the city has fought attempts to have the video released to the public, saying it could jeopardize any ongoing investigation. The decision is the result of a Freedom of Information Act request filed earlier this year by freelance journalist Brandon Smith.
November 24, 2015 – Officer Jason Van Dyke is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of McDonald.
December 1, 2015 – Mayor Rahm Emanuel announces he has asked for the resignation of Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.