An analysis of records in Georgia found that over half of blacks shot by police were either unarmed or were shot in the back.
According to a report compiled by the Atlanta Journal Constitution and Channel 2 Action News, two out of five whites shot by police in Georgia since 2010 were shot in the back or were unarmed. For black Georgians, that number rises to three in five.
The investigation found that police shot blacks at twice the rate of whites when the percentage of the population was taken into account. At the same time, 78 percent of the officers who pulled their triggers were white.
The analysis found that in 19 percent of all black shootings and 16 percent of all white shootings, the suspect was unarmed. Reporters found at least 70 cases since 2010 where suspects suffered bullet wounds to their backside. In 11 cases, the suspect was both unarmed and shot in the back.
“So many of these cases involve somebody being shot in the back. It’s very, very troubling,” police shootings expert Philip Stinson of Bowling Green State University told the AJC. “I can think of some very, very limited circumstances where it would be legally appropriate, but it’s rare circumstances … You can’t just shoot somebody that’s running away from you.”
According to the report, 20 of the officers involved in fatal sootings had been previously disciplined. The state reportedly has no system in place to track police shootings statewide.
Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police Executive Director Frank Rotondo insisted that law enforcement officials knew that the situation had to change.
“We already recognize there is a problem,” Rotondo explained. “We are not blind to the idea that there is a problem in our country. And we are not blind to the idea that we have a lot of shootings that occur in Georgia.”
Lawmakers are expected to debate changes to a law next year that currently gives police officers involved in shootings the right to sit in on the entire grand jury and to provide a statement at the end that cannot be questioned by prosecutors.
Read the entire report here.