The New York City Police Department just released its annual firearms discharge report, and the big takeaways are pretty grim.
NYPD officers shot and killed more people last year than in any year since 1998. More officers were shot and injured in 2012 than at any time since 1997. And there was a 200 percent increase in officer suicides over 2011, with eight deaths in 2012 compared to three the year before.
The report includes detailed descriptions of each person shot and killed. But in at least one case, these summaries leave a lot to be desired. Take, for example, this write-up of a February 2, 2012, officer-involved shooting. Here's what the report says (emphasis mine):
On February 2, at 1501 hours, in the 47th Precinct, a police officer assigned to the Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit discharged his weapon once resulting in the death of a male subject.
The officer, along with several other officers assigned to that unit, had been on patrol when they observed three men walking down the block. The officers observed one of the men holding his waistband, an indication that he may have been carrying a firearm, and then saw the group quickly enter and exit a nearby store. These actions led the officers to suspect that the group may be preparing to commit a crime. The group of men then broke apart and moved in different directions. Following the person they suspected possessed a firearm, one of the officers transmitted a description of the man with the gun.
The subject, matching the description of the person suspected to be carrying the firearm, passed two of the officers, who got out of their car and attempted to stop the subject. The subject entered a building through the front door. After gaining entry to the building, one of the officers observed the subject, and believing that he was in possession of a firearm, pursued him inside an apartment in the building at which time the officer discharged one round from his weapon, striking the subject and causing his demise. The subject had prior arrests dating back to 2009, including burglary, robbery, drug sales, and weapons possession.
Reading that, you would assume the police officer shot and killed an armed man to protect himself.
But who was the seemingly armed subject with all the prior arrests? It was 18-year-old Ramarley Graham. He was, in fact, unarmed. When officers caught up with him, he was trying to flush a bag of weed down the toilet in his grandmother's apartment. He was killed by Officer Richard Haste at close range.
The NYPD discharge report classifies the shooting death of Graham as "Intentional Discharge – Adversarial Conflict," a category that covers "incidents in which an officer intentionally discharges a firearm in defense of self or another during an adversarial conflict with a subject."
Haste was indicted on manslaughter charges by a grand jury. A judge threw out the indictment, and a second grand jury declined to indict Haste again.
You can see more findings from the report in the below charts:
A spokesperson for the NYPD told the Wall Street Journal that 2012's numbers were "within the range of the department's historically low numbers."
Top image: A man holds a copy of a news release with a photo of Trayvon Martin before the start of a rally where community leaders denounce the February 2, 2012 killing of 18-year-old Bronx resident Ramarley Graham. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton.