The magnifying effect produced by the George Floyd case on court decisions concerning police officers involved in homicides is undoubtedly not unrelated to it, but several less high-profile cases will be closely scrutinized in the coming months in the United States. . The opening of trials or the announcement of convictions are expected across the country. Judges and prosecutors may regularly remind that court decisions depend neither on a political context nor on public opinion, the outcome of these various cases could give indications on the effects of the Floyd case and the the way in which justice now approaches the prosecution of police officers in the performance of their duties.
Thus, in Alabama, a police officer, William Darby, charged with murder, is expected to receive his sentence in August. In 2018, he shot a man threatening to kill himself in his living room, as his colleague tried to calm the situation. The trial of a Texas police officer is also due to open in August: called to the scene by a neighbor who worried about seeing “An open window”, he fired without warning, killing a young black woman who was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew in the house. In Washington State, this fall, Jeffrey Nelson will be the first police officer to be tried for murder since authorities simplified procedures to prosecute police officers who used excessive force. He had twice shot an unarmed young man behaving erratically in the street. He invoked self-defense.
A thousand people killed each year by the police
In April, in the middle of the Chauvin trial, a policewoman from the suburbs of Minneapolis was charged with manslaughter for having killed a young black man during a banal traffic stop. She faces ten years in prison. Weeks later, a Virginia police officer was convicted of the murder of a shot dead man in his vehicle, while three Washington state officers were prosecuted for suffocating a black man. In June, three Hawaiian police officers were in turn charged with murder or aiding and abetting murder for shooting a 16-year-old.
These cases represent only a part of the fatal shootings committed by police officers on duty. Every year, a thousand people are killed by the police. Most are armed and the vast majority of these interventions do not result in prosecution. According to a count from the University of Bowling Green (Ohio), in the past fifteen years, 143 police officers have been prosecuted for homicide, but 53 have been acquitted and only nine have been convicted of murder. Another part of them was sentenced for reasons less serious than homicide. Forty-five cases are still pending.
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