Rodney Glen King (April 2, 1965 – June 17, 2012) was an American construction worker turned writer after surviving an act of police brutality by the Los Angeles Police Department. On March 3, 1991, King was beaten by LAPD officers after a high-speed chase during his arrest for drunk driving on I-210. A civilian, George Holliday, filmed the incident from his nearby balcony and sent the footage to local news station KTLA. The footage clearly showed an unarmed King on the ground being beaten after initially evading arrest. The incident was covered by news media around the world and caused a public furor.
* Even though Rodney Kings was not killed at the hands of the police, the taping of the brutality he endured back in 1991 became a catalyst for in the police brutality discourse.
In the early hours of February 4, 1999, a 23-year-old Guinean immigrant named Amadou Diallo (born September 2, 1975) was shot and killed by four New York City Police Department plain-clothed officers—Sean Carroll, Richard Murphy, Edward McMellon, and Kenneth Boss. Carroll would later claim to have mistaken him for a rape suspect from one year earlier, though his claim was never confirmed by any objective evidence. The officers fired a combined total of 41 shots, 19 of which struck Diallo, outside his apartment at 1157 Wheeler Avenue in the Soundview section of the Bronx.
Sean Bell was shot in New York City, in the borough of Queens on November 25, 2006. Three men were shot when a total of 50 rounds were fired by New York City police (NYPD) in both plainclothes and undercover. Bell was killed on the morning before his wedding, and two of his friends, Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman, were severely wounded. The incident sparked fierce criticism of the New York City Police Department from members of the public and drew comparisons to the 1999 killing of Amadou Diallo. Three of the five detectives involved in the shooting went to trial on charges of first- and second-degree manslaughter, first- and second-degree assault, and second-degree reckless endangerment; they were found not guilty.
Anthony Lamar Smith was a 24-year-old African American man from St. Louis, Missouri, who was shot and killed by then St. Louis Police officer Jason Stockley following a car chase on December 20, 2011. On September 15, 2017, Stockley was found not guilty of first-degree murder, and protests erupted in St. Louis.
On July 17, 2014, Eric Garner died in the New York City borough of Staten Island after Daniel Pantaleo, a New York City Police Department (NYPD) officer, put him in a chokehold while arresting him (despite chokeholds being banned in NYPD since 1993). Video footage of the incident generated widespread national attention and raised questions about the appropriate use of force by law enforcement.
On April 12, 2015, Freddie Carlos Gray Jr., a 25-year-old black man, was arrested by the Baltimore Police Department and subsequently charged for possessing a knife. While being transported in a police van, Gray fell into a coma and was taken to the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center. Gray died on April 19, 2015; his death was ascribed to injuries to his spinal cord. On April 21, 2015, pending an investigation of the incident, six Baltimore police officers were suspended.
In the late evening of March 18, 2018, Stephon Clark, a 22-year-old African-American man, was shot and killed in Meadowview, Sacramento, California by Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet, two officers of the Sacramento Police Department in the backyard of his grandmother's house while he had a phone in his hand. The encounter was filmed by police video cameras and by a Sacramento County Sheriff's Department helicopter which was involved in observing Clark, on the ground and in directing ground officers to the point at which the shooting took place. The officers stated that they shot Clark, firing 20 rounds, believing that he had pointed a gun at them. Police found only a cell phone on him. While the Sacramento County Coroner's autopsy report concluded that Clark was shot seven times, including three shots to the right side of the back, the pathologist hired by the Clark family stated that Clark was shot eight times, including six times in the back.
Elijah Jovan McClain, a 23-year-old African-American massage therapist in Aurora, Colorado, was killed after an encounter with police while walking home on the evening of August 24, 2019. An Aurora citizen reported to police that McClain was acting suspiciously wearing a ski mask, although the caller also indicated that he did not believe anyone was in danger, and that he believed McClain was unarmed. The three police officers who were involved in the incident said that their body cameras were knocked off during a struggle with him. While he was being forcibly held to the ground by police, paramedics administered ketamine to McClain to sedate him. While being transported to the hospital, McClain suffered a cardiac arrest. He died seven days later after being removed from life support. McClain's autopsy was inconclusive.
On June 24, 2020, after a social media outcry and Aurora lawmakers' requests for a new, third-party investigation into McClain's death, Colorado Governor Jared Polis announced his administration would reexamine the case.
Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African-American emergency medical technician, was fatally shot by Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) officers on March 13, 2020. Three plainclothes LMPD officers executing a no-knock search warrant entered her apartment in Louisville, Kentucky. Gunfire was exchanged between Taylor's boyfriend Kenneth Walker and the officers. Walker said he believed that the officers were intruders. The LMPD officers fired over twenty shots. Taylor was shot eight times and LMPD Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly was injured by gunfire. Another police officer and an LMPD lieutenant were on the scene when the warrant was executed.
George Perry Floyd Jr. (October 14, 1973 – May 25, 2020) was a black American man killed during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after allegedly using counterfeit money to buy cigarettes. Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on his neck for nearly eight minutes. After his death, protests against police violence toward black people quickly spread across the United States and internationally.
Officer Devin Brosnan responded to a complaint that Brooks was asleep in a car blocking a restaurant drive-through lane; Rolfe arrived after Brosnan radioed for assistance some minutes later. After a breathalyzer exam indicated that Brooks's blood-alcohol content was above the legal limit for driving, Rolfe and Brosnan began to handcuff Brooks. Brooks scuffled with the officers, got hold of Brosnan's taser, punched Rolfe, and ran. With Rolfe pursuing him, Brooks half turned and fired the taser toward Rolfe, who then shot Brooks twice from behind while a third shot struck an occupied car. Brooks died after surgery.
Footage of the incident from the officers' bodycams, from a witness's phone, and from the restaurant's security system were widely broadcast. Police chief Erika Shields resigned. The following day Rolfe was fired and Brosnan was placed on administrative duty.
Based on these videos and witness reports, prosecutors claim that after Brooks was shot, Rolfe kicked Brooks and Brosnan stood on his shoulder. Rolfe has been charged with felony murder and ten other offenses, Brosnan with aggravated assault and two counts of violation of oath.