Police officers and sheriff's deputies in Los Angeles County shot people in 78 incidents in 2017, according to figures provided to KPCC by the county District Attorney. That's down from the previous two years, but in line with the general trend of recent years.
Police and deputies were involved in 89 shootings in 2016 and 2015. The 2017 figure, which works out to roughly one shooting every fifth day, is among the lower totals since 2000.
Still, the 2017 number seems to be "well within the range of the previous 16 years," said Aili Malm, professor of criminal justice at Cal State Long Beach. She sees no clear trend — up or down — in that time period.
The number includes shootings by LAPD officers and L.A. County Sheriff's Department deputies, as well as incidents involving police officers in the county's smaller cities, such as Whittier and South Gate.
The dip in 2017 shootings could reflect fewer encounters between law enforcement officers and citizens, Malm said, although those figures aren't available at a countywide level.
The DA's office reviews each shooting in the county, giving it a full count of the number of incidents.
Law enforcement officers in the county have been involved in 1,520 shootings between 2000 and the end of 2017, according to the data. The shootings tracked by the D.A. include incidents in which suspects were shot and killed, as well as non-fatal shootings. They also include shootings by off-duty police officers and sheriff's deputies.
Some of the incidents from the past year:
- The shooting of Michael Mejia, who had shot and killed Whittier police officer Keith Boyer earlier in the same day.
- The early morning shooting of a drunk driver by Torrance police.
- The shooting of a man who police said was brandishing a handgun in South Gate.
- The shooting of a man driving a vehicle during a pursuit by L.A. Sheriff's deputies.
There is much the DA's tally does not capture, including the circumstances of each shooting, the races of those involved, and whether departments determined officers acted according to policy.
In 2015, KPCC built a database of more than 350 shootings in L.A. County. The investigation revealed that one in four people shot in the county was unarmed, and that officers fatally shot black people at triple the rate of whites and Latinos.
No officer has been criminally charged in connection with an on-duty shooting in Los Angeles County since 2000.
The relatively stable numbers of shootings in Los Angeles County mirror national data collected by the Washington Post. The Post counted nearly 1,000 fatal shootings across the country in 2017, for the third year in a row.