Yamiche Alcindor, USA TODAY
(USA Today) — Police who kill suspects in the line of duty rarely face charges, experts say, but recent incidents in which police officers face murder and manslaughter charges show what spurs prosecutors to pursue such cases.
Officers in Cleveland, Chicago and North Charleston, S.C., face murder and manslaughter charges for shooting and killing unarmed suspects. A Tulsa volunteer reserve deputy is charged with second-degree manslaughter of a suspect.
In the Cleveland case prosecutors have other police willing to testify and a heap of forensic evidence from a hail of bullets. In Chicago, several people witnessed an officer firing over his shoulder into a crowd. In North Charleston, a graphic video depicts an officer firing eight times into a fleeing suspect’s back, and in Tulsa, another video shows a deputy shooting a man on the ground.
In each of these cases, prosecutors say they have over-the-top evidence of egregious conduct. Still, charging and convicting an officer is an often uphill battle in a system that sees police as trusted public servants who put their lives on the line to keep the community safe.