Weapon Held by Suspect in Most Minnesota Police-Related Deaths

January 28, 2015

A new analysis shows Minnesota law enforcement officers who shot and killed suspects faced volatile and varied situations, with those who were killed often holding a weapon.

At least 60 people have been shot and killed by officers in the state since 2008. A Minnesota Public Radio News analysis reports more than 70 percent of those killed held guns or knives, and officers reported being shot at in nearly 30 percent of cases.

Drugs, alcohol or mental illness were mentioned in more than 18 cases. Domestic disturbance calls made up more than one-quarter of all fatal officer-involved shootings.

Minnesota requires law enforcement agencies to report when officers fire their weapons, including deaths. No officers have been charged in fatal shootings since 2008.

St. Paul police have accounted for 11 officer-involved deaths, the most in the state. The latest in St. Paul was Jan. 14, when police say Marcus Golden was shot and killed when he drove his vehicle at officers.

More than half of those who were killed by St. Paul police were black. Civil rights leaders have called for the city’s police-involved deaths to be investigated from the outside.

African-Americans made up 26 percent of those killed by officers in Minnesota, roughly four times the percentage of the state’s black population. Jon Roesler, an epidemiologist for the Minnesota Department of Health, said it’s not clear why this disparity exists, given the small amount of data.

Civil liberties advocates say minorities have more contact with police in general. According to a recent study by the American Civil Liberties Union, African-Americans were found to be 11 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession in Minneapolis despite similar usage rates.

Six officers have been killed on duty since 2008 in Minnesota.

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