List of cases of police brutality
This list compiles incidents alleged or proved to be due to police brutality that attracted significant media or historical attention. Many cases are alleged to be of brutality; some cases are more than allegations, with official reports concluding that a crime was committed by police, with some criminal convictions for offences such as grievous bodily harm, planting evidence and wrongful arrest. This list should include only cases outside of the following countries, each of which has their own list:
If you find a case from one of those countries on this list, please move it to the correct country list.
- 22 September 1920: In reprisal for an ambush by the IRA, Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) officers killed 5 civilians and burnt 16 houses/shops in west County Clare, Ireland.
- 21 November 1920: The Croke Park massacre in Dublin, Ireland. Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) officers opened-fire on civilians who were watching a Gaelic football match in Croke Park; 14 were killed and 60–70 wounded. The attack was believed to be revenge for an IRA assassination operation earlier in the day.
- 24 March 1922: The McMahon murders in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Officers of the Ulster Special Constabulary (USC) broke into a house owned by an Irish Catholic family and shot all eight males inside. Six were killed. It is believed to have been a reprisal for the IRA's killing of two policemen the day before.
- 1 April 1922: The Arnon Street killings in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Ten officers of the Ulster Special Constabulary (USC) broke into a number of Irish Catholic-owned homes and killed six Catholic civilians (including a child). This was believed to have been a reprisal for the IRA's killing of a policeman in the area.
- 25 December 1951: Five Hispanic men and two white men were severely beaten by members of the Los Angeles Police Department, in an incident known as the Bloody Christmas. Eight officers were indicted for assault, and five were found guilty.
- 21 March 1960. South African police shot at a crowd of black anti-apartheid protesters, killing 69 and injuring over 180 in what became known as the Sharpeville massacre. Evidence showed that the police continued firing even when the crowd had turned to run, and the majority of those killed and wounded were shot in the back. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission later concluded that the police actions had constituted "gross human rights violations in that excessive force was unnecessarily used to stop a gathering of unarmed people." (see Sharpeville massacre article for sourcing).
- 17 October 1961. The French police attacked a large demonstration of unarmed and peaceful protesters of Algerian origin, killing between 70 and 200 (numbers are uncertain, partly because many were drowned after being thrown into the Seine with their hands tied), in the Paris massacre of 1961.
- 19 April 1969 in Derry, Northern Ireland. During rioting between Irish nationalists and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), RUC officers broke into the home of Catholic civilian Samuel Devenny (42), who was not involved in the riots. The officers kicked Devenny and beat him ferociously with batons. His young daughter (who was recovering from surgery) and a family friend were beaten unconscious. His older daughter and son were also attacked. It is believed that the attack led to Devenny's death on 17 July 1969.
- 13 July 1969 in Dungiven, Northern Ireland. Catholic civilian Francis McCloskey (67) was beaten with batons by Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers during street disturbances and died of his injuries the following day. He is sometimes deemed to be the first death of "The Troubles".
- 14–15 August 1969: During the 1969 Northern Ireland riots, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) shot dead five Catholic civilians and opened-fire on crowds of Irish nationalist protesters.
- 1967–74: the methods of the Greek military junta were documented in the docudrama Your Neighbor's Son. It focused on the brutalization of young Military Police recruits which turned them into torturers. Michalis Petrou, a conscript who became a notorious torturer, testified against his former colleagues.
- 1977. Steve Biko is widely believed to have been killed by police as a result of anti-apartheid demonstrations in South Africa.
- 2 March 1991: Rodney King was beaten with batons and kicked by four Los Angeles Police Department officers. The four officers were charged with assault with a deadly weapon, and found not guilty, prompting riots in Los Angeles. The four officers were tried again in a federal court, and two of the officers were found guilty of violating King's civil rights.
- 29 August 1993: The Vigário Geral massacre occurred when 33 Brazilian law enforcement officers, including 28 military officers, sought revenge against drug traffickers for the killing of four police officers two days prior to the massacre. The officers opened fire on local residents in a community north of Rio de Janeiro, killing 21 people. Six officers were convicted of the murders.
- 22 December 1994: Anthony Baez was fatally choked by New York Police Department officer Francis Livoti in the Bronx, following an altercation with him. In June 1998, Livoti was convicted in a federal court on charges of violating Baez's civil rights, and was sentenced to seven and a half years imprisonment.
- 3 January 1998: Six policemen from the North East Rand Dog Unit set their dogs on three suspected illegal immigrants, allowing the animals to attack the three men as the officers shouted racial insults. The incident was caught on video and televised nationally by the South African Broadcasting Corporation on 7 November 2000, causing widespread outrage. All six policemen were ultimately sentenced to jail terms of between four and five years each.
- 9 May 2001: police fired tear gas and plastic bullets into crowds at the Accra Sports Stadium, Ghana, causing a stampede in which 127 people died. It was Africa's worst sporting disaster. An official inquiry blamed police over-reaction, but prosecution failed to establish a case.
- 20–21 July 2001: Carlo Giuliani, protesting at the 27th G8 summit was shot dead by police in Genoa, Italy; the officer was tried, but acquitted on the grounds that he had acted in self-defence. 62 other protesters were hospitalized (including three comatose) after a brutal night-time raid on the Diaz school where they were sleeping. In a trial that concluded in 2010, twenty-five Italian police officers were convicted of grievous bodily harm, planting evidence and wrongful arrest.
- 23 May 2003: Ousmane Zongo, a Burkina Faso national, was unarmed as he was shot four times by a New York Police Department officer during a raid at a warehouse. Bryan Conroy was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and was sentenced to five years probation.
- September 4, 2005: Danziger Bridge shootings. Two unarmed civilians were killed and four others were wounded by New Orleans, Louisiana police officers. Five officers were found guilty in the deaths, and received sentencings ranging from 6 to 65 years of prison.
- 25 September 2005: 18-year-old Italian student Federico Aldrovandi was killed after being beaten up during an arrest in Ferrara. The four officers involved in the incident, Monica Segatto, Luca Pollastri, Enzo Pontani and Paolo Forlani were found guilty of manslaughter due to excessive force and faced 6 months in prison, after the initial sentence of 3 years and 6 months was reduced due to a controversial pardon issued in 2006 by the Italian Parliament.
- 3 May 2006: In San Salvador Atenco, Mexico, a group of police officers prevented a group of 60 flower vendors from selling at a market, and used violence against the resisters. The confrontations lead to a civil unrest in the town, leaving two protesters dead and dozens of people, mostly women, were sexually assaulted by officers. The officers involved were charged by the National Human Rights Commission with using excessive force.
- March 7, 2006: Unarmed Joseph Erin Hamley was fatally shot by an Arkansas State Police trooper. The trooper was convicted of negligent homicide.
- 21 November 2006: Kathryn Johnston was fatally shot in her house by three Atlanta, Georgia undercover police officers, during a drug raid. One of the officers planted marijuana in her house. Three officers were convicted of manslaughter and were sentenced to five to ten years imprisonment.
- 7 September 2006: Eugene Ejike Obiora, a Nigerian-Norwegian student, was killed during an arrest where Obiora had behaved aggressively toward personnel at the social services office in Trondheim. Obiora died en route to a hospital after a police officer held him in a stranglehold. The case made headlines and three officers were accused of racism and excessive use of force, but they were cleared by police investigators and the chief prosecutor.
- 7 January 2008: Wei Wenhua was beaten to death by police officers in Hubei province, China.
- 6 December 2008: 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos was fatally shot by police officer Epaminondas Korkoneas in Athens, Greece. Demonstrations and riots erupted throughout Athens almost immediately after the shooting, sparking weeks of civil unrest and workplace and university occupations throughout Greece and beyond.
- January 1, 2009: Oscar Grant was fatally shot by BART Police officer Johannes Mehserle in Oakland, California, U.S. Grant was unarmed and laying on his stomach as he was shot. Mehserle was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to two years of prison, and served 11 months.
- 1 April 2009: policing at the 2009 G-20 London summit protests included the controversial technique of kettling. A bystander, Ian Tomlinson, died shortly after being pushed to the ground by a police officer. An inquest found that Tomlinson was unlawfully killed. An officer in the Metropolitan Police's Territorial Support Group was charged with manslaughter, but found not guilty.
- 6 June 2010: Khaled Mohamed Saeed, 28, was beaten to death by two Egyptian policemen in Alexandria, while he was in police custody. The officers were found guilty of manslaughter.
- 30 August 2010: John T. Williams, a deaf woodcarver, was fatally shot by Seattle, Washington police officer Ian Birk. Williams was walking away from Birk with a carving knife in his hand, and was shot four times. Birk was not charged by county prosecutors in Williams' death, and the Seattle Police Department's Firearms Review Board ruled that Birk was unjustified in shooting Williams and violated the department's policy. Birk resigned from the department.
- 5 October 2010: Danny Rodriguez, 29, was shot twice in the chest and killed by Phoenix, Arizona officer Richard Chrisman. Rodriguez was holding a bicycle as he was shot, and police were called to his family's home in response to a domestic dispute. Chrisman was found guilty of manslaughter, assault, and animal cruelty.
- 6 June 2011: 22-year-old Martin Neshkovski was beaten to death by Igor Spasov, a member of the special police unit Tigers, in the center of Skopje, Republic of Macedonia during the celebration of the ruling party's VMRO-DPMNE election victory, supposedly because he wanted to climb on stage and congratulate the Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski personally. After an unsuccessful attempt by the Macedonian institutions to cover up the murder, which was followed by two-day demonstrations in Skopje, Spasov admitted the murder. Protests were held daily throughout June and July, demanding greater control over special police unit members and political and moral responsibility.
- 12 December 2010: Douglas Zerby was shot twelve times and killed by two Long Beach, California police officers. Police were called in response to Zerby holding a garden hose nozzle, which police claimed to have mistaken for a handgun. Zerby's family was awarded $6.5 million after a jury found the Long Beach Police Department to be responsible for Zerby's death.
- 9 July 2011: The United Nations human rights office expressed disappointment on the use of excessive force by the police against peaceful protestors in the Bersih 2.0 rally, which was organised by the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) calling for electoral reform in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
- February 2012: Patricia Cook was fatally shot while in her SUV by Culpeper, Virginia officer Daniel Harmon-Wright. Harmon-Wright was convicted of voluntary manslaughter.
- 22 July 2012: Alecia Thomas was kicked and punched by Los Angeles Police Department officer Mary O'Callaghan during an arrest, and later died in police custody. O'Callaghan was found guilty of assault, but not guilty of causing her death. She was sentenced to three years imprisonment.
- 16 August 2012: The Marikana Massacre which occurred during the wildcat Marikana miners' strike was the single most lethal use of force by South African security forces against civilians since the Sharpeville massacre during the apartheid era.
- 26 February 2013: Mido Macia was handcuffed to and dragged by a police vehicle for 500 meters in Gauteng, South Africa. Eight officers were convicted of murder.
- 17 July 2013: Deng Zhengjia was beaten to death with a scale during an encounter with multiple City Urban Administrative and Law Enforcement Bureau officers who confronted Deng for selling watermelons in Hunan province, China.
- 29 August 2013: John Geer was fatally shot by officer Adam Torres in Springfield, Virginia, as his arms were raised up and a gun was on the ground away from him. Torres pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter.
- 5 September 2014: Levar Jones was shot and injured by South Carolina State Trooper Sean Groubert after Groubert asked Jones to get out his license. Groubert was fired, and pleaded guilty to assault and battery.
- 14 September 2014: Bryce Masters, 17, was Tasered for 23 seconds by Independence, Missouri officer Timothy Runnels, during a traffic stop. Masters suffered from brain injuries as a result. Runnels pleaded guilty to violating Masters' civil rights, and was sentenced to four years of prison.
- 12 October 2014: Jack Jacquez, 27, was shot in the back and killed by officer James Ashby in Rocky Ford, Colorado. Jacquez was in his mother's kitchen and was unarmed as he was shot. Ashby was found guilty of second degree murder.
- 20 November 2014: Akai Gurley was fatally shot by New York City Police Officer Peter Liang, as Liang and another officer were patrolling an unlit stairwell in a housing project. The shooting was considered accidental by Liang and prosecutors, and Liang was convicted of criminally negligent homicide.
- 28 December 2014: Michael Johansen was burglarizing a convenience store, and Baltimore Police Department officers arrived on the scene. Johansen reached into his waistband area, and officers shot and injured him. As Johansen was on the floor, officer Wesley Cagle shot him. Two officers were cleared in the shooting, but Cagle was charged and convicted of assault.
- 22 April 2015: William Chapman II, an 18-year-old shoplifting suspect, was shot in a Wal-Mart parking lot by Portsmouth, Virginia police officer Stephen Rankin. According to witnesses, Chapman had his fists raised in the air, and was standing at least six feet away from Rankin before Rankin fired two shots, striking Chapman in the face and chest. On August 4, 2016, Rankin was found not guilty of first-degree murder, but guilty of voluntary manslaughter.
- 25 November 2015: Andrew Thomas, 26, was driving drunk and crashed his car, killing his wife. Thomas emerged out of his car, and Patrick Feaster, a Paradise, California police officer accidentally fired his gun once at Thomas, hitting him in the neck. Thomas died from his injuries in December 2015. In October 2016, Feaster was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
- Findings on Devenny investigation, Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland
- Chronology of the Conflict: July 1969, Conflict Archive on the Internet
- Lawrence Van Gelder (29 August 1984). "Din nabos soen (1981)". The NY Times.
- "Stephen Bantu Biko". South African History Online. Retrieved 2007-12-03.
- CNN News (29 November 2001). "Police jailed over dog attack". CNN. Archived from the original on 22 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-30.
- Tendai Dumbutshena (17 November 2000). "Racist, barbaric incidnt leaves SA shellshocked". Zimbabwe Mirror. Archived from the original on 3 June 2008. Retrieved 2007-08-30.
- "Ghana tragedy: Police to blame". BBC. 29 July 2001. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
- "Genoa protester case dismissed". BBC News. 5 May 2003. Retrieved 2008-02-04.
- Hooper, John. "Top Italian policemen get up to five years for violent attack on G8 protesters." The Guardian. 19 May 2010. Retrieved 26 May 2010.
- "Two indicted over teen shooting". Kathimerini. 13 June 2009. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
- Walker, Paul and Lewis, Paul. "Simon Harwood not guilty of killing Ian Tomlinson", The Guardian, 19 July 2012.
- "Ex-Phoenix officer pleads guilty to manslaughter in killing of unarmed man". AZ Central. December 11, 2013.
- "Marching Against Police Brutality in Macedonia". Al Jazeera English. Washington DC. 13 June 2011. Archived from the original on 16 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-17.
- "Hundreds protest Macedonian beating death". The Washington Post. 7 June 2011.
- "Malaysia: UN rights office voices concern about recent crackdown on protesters". UN News Center. 12 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-13.
- "Malaysia 'overreacts with mass arrests'". The Jakarta Post. 12 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-13.
- "UN rights disappointed by Malaysian police crackdown". The Straits Times. Singapore. 12 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-13.
- "Ex-Culpeper Police Officer Sentenced to 36 Months in Fatal Shooting". NBC Washington. May 2, 2013.
- "LAPD Officer Found Guilty of Assault in Arrest of Woman Who Died In Police Custody". KTLA. June 5, 2015.
- McMichael, Chris (3 September 2012). "The South African Police Service and the Public Order War". Think Africa Press. Retrieved 9 Oct 2013.
- Marinovich, Greg (8 September 2012). "The murder fields of Marikana. The cold murder fields of Marikana". Daily Maverick. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
- "White S.C. trooper pleads guilty in shooting of unarmed black man". CBS News. March 14, 2016.
- "Former Independence cop gets four-year sentence for encounter that nearly killed teen driver". Kansas City Star. June 1, 2016.
- "Ex-Rocky Ford cop found guilty of murdering Jack Jacquez while on duty". Denver Post. June 23, 2016.
- "Jury finds Baltimore Police Officer Wesley Cagle guilty of assault in shooting of unarmed man". Baltimore Sun.
- "Paradise Cop Who Took 11 Minutes To Report Shooting Found Guilty Of Involuntary Manslaughter". CBS13. October 18, 2016.