Los Angeles police officers shot and killed seven people described by the department as “suspects” in 2020, down from 12 deadly officer-involved shootings reported the previous year, according to a report presented to the Board of Police Commissioners Tuesday and on May 25.
The 2020 Use of Force Year-End Review Report said officers intentionally discharged their firearms — excluding warning shots, animal shootings and Tactical Intentional Discharge incidents — a total of 27 times during contact with civilians in 2020, up from 26 the previous year.
In 59% of the shootings in 2020, the person being contacted by police was either not armed with a firearm, did not have the firearm in hand or was not in a position to fire, the report said. About 58% of the contacted people were armed with a firearm, and 81% were armed with either a firearm or edged weapon, the report noted.
Of the seven people who were fatally shot by officers in 2020, four were Hispanic, one was Black, one was white and one was Filipino.
In 2020, the department made contact with the public 1.443 million times, and used force in 0.14% of those instances, the department said. The 27 times that an officer intentionally discharged a firearm accounts for about 0.001% of the department’s contact with the public. Officers discharged a total of 156 rounds during these contacts, down 41% compared to 2019.
The number of people experiencing homelessness who were being contacted when an officer discharged a firearm decreased to zero in 2020, compared to six in 2019, according to the department. However, Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Dominic Choi told the commission Tuesday that so far in 2021, officers discharged their firearms during five instances of contacting people experiencing homelessness.
“We all know homelessness is a systemic issue in this city … it’s growing, and so we look at the data to see if there are things that we can include or change in training or our response to these incidents to minimize the need to use lethal force, or any force, quite frankly,” Choi said.
The department also reported a 50% increase in 2020 in the number of people perceived to have a mental illness who were being contacted when an officer discharged a firearm.
Additionally, department saw a 55% decrease in 2020 compared to 2019 in the number of police personnel who unintentionally discharged a firearm.
The department compared its shootings to other agencies in Los Angeles and the U.S. While the LAPD was responsible for 27 shootings in 2020, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reported 33 shootings by deputies, the New York Police Department reported 25, and the Chicago Police Department reported 35.
For deadly shootings, the department compared the seven people killed by LAPD officers to 13 killed by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies, nine killed by New York Police officers and seven killed by Chicago Police officers in 2020.
“When comparing the number of deceased OIS suspects to the number of total OIS incidents in 2020, the Department had 26 percent of OIS incidents result in a suspect fatality. LASD had 39 percent of their incidents result in a suspect fatality,” the report stated.
The report also noted that the number of LAPD officer-involved shootings was down 25% from the four-year average between 2016 and 2019, when the department had an annual average of 36 officer-involved shootings.
So far in 2021, as of Monday, the department has had a total of 17 officer-involved shootings, one additional shooting from the same time last year, Choi told the Los Angeles Police Commission Tuesday. Of the 17 officer-involved shootings so far this year and of the 16 last year, nine of the people described as suspects were armed with a firearm, Choi said.