Heading into an election year, the candidates have already started up the lie and false promise machines and the key issues are starting to rear their ugly heads once again. As per usual, some of the religion-focused folks are shouting "abortion" and "stem cells" as loud as they can, but in the next year and a bit, it looks like other controversies may overshadow the religious stuff.
In many recent polls, economic issues and the state of government itself have ranked among the most important American priorities heading into 2016. The economic issues are obvious, the country is several trillion dollars in debt and unfortunately, no matter how optimistic some democrats pretend to be, the end isn't in sight. The spending and dishonesty that has defined Barack Obama's presidency has made many Americans unprecedentedly distrustful of their government.
One of the factors that has influenced this phenomenon is the increased militarization of police. While this is not something controlled directly at the federal level, police wherever they may be, showing up to a scene in full body armor, with automatic rifles and armored vehicles has created a feeling in some communities that government has turned on the people. Obviously, there are plenty of others who see cops as heroes and see the militarization of police as a step in the direction of public safety. On the topic of police, along with the issue of militarization, there is the issue of use of force, which has been documented as being used vastly more in the United States than other first world countries. After killing over 1,100 people throughout the United States in 2014, the numbers are looking just slightly higher so far in 2015. Here are the states whose police have killed the most people so far this year. These numbers are accurate as of July 22nd, 2015.
10 Colorado: 16
The state of Colorado ranks tenth in both the number of people killed and those killed per capita, with a total of 16 out of just over 5,000,000. On top of that, their police do not seem to mess around. In other states, as you will see, some suspects die in custody, some of taser mishaps and others from police vehicle accidents. In Colorado though, so far in 2015, all 16 of those killed by cops have been killed with firearms.
9 New Jersey: 17
With a population of about 8.9 million, New Jersey police forces have killed seventeen citizens, which is about two per million, and 27th in terms of per capita killings. About a quarter were killed by police vehicles, which is an unusually high percentage. Two New Yorkers, Nunwah Laroche and Jason Champion, were hit and killed by a squad car in New Jersey back in early May. They were walking along the side of the highway after their car broke down. The officer who killed them is described as a great cop, but has been on injury leave since the incident.
Most of the rest of those killed in the state so far this year were killed by gunshot, while another was killed by a vehicle and the last was Phillip White, who was beaten and attacked by a police dog. He later died of his wounds while in police custody. Hacker group Anonymous vowed revenge on the Vineland Police Department in the wake of this killing.
8 T7. Ohio: 19
In a tie for seventh is Ohio, where nineteen have been killed. Most recently was Dontae Martin, who was involved in a car wreck and was shot when he exited his vehicle with a firearm, according to police.
Back in November 2014, 12 year old Tamir Rice (see the unfortunately familiar image above) was shot by a cop in Cleveland, sending the nation into an uproar. While not nearly so young, 18 year old Brandon Jones was shot after robbing a store for some cigarettes. Two Ohio men, James Payne and Nyal Brown, were killed in auto accidents with police. Payne was killed when his motorcycle was hit by a cop making an illegal left turn back in June.
7 T7. New York: 19
While the state may have had one of 2014's most notorious killings; Eric Garner (pictured above), there has been a steady stream of less high profile killings in the state this year. New York is tied with Ohio at the seventh spot, but in reality, the state has a massive population of 20,000,000, and killing just 19 is less than one in a million. That's good enough for 45th in the country for killings per capita.
The oldest person killed by police so far this year is Louis Becker, an 87 year old New York resident, who was killed in a vehicular collision with a state trooper. While it is still under investigation, this one seems like a genuine accident in which no harm was meant.
6 Georgia: 22
Georgia has had 22 people killed by cops so far in 2015. Most took the form of the standard "punk encounters police and gets shot/tased to death" but two of those killings occurred in police custody. The most notorious is the case of Matthew Ajibade, a 21 year old Nigerian student who was killed in a jail cell by officers in a Savannah, GA jail. He was arrested after a domestic altercation with his girlfriend. She told cops that he had underlying mental conditions, and supplied them with his medicine. Hours later however, Ajibade was found dead in his cell, having sustained a severe beating and head trauma that was determined to have ended his life. Nine officers were fired and three have been charged with manslaughter.
5 Oklahoma: 29
Number one in terms of killings per capita is our number five; Oklahoma. With 29 killed out of a state population of just 3,850,000, roughly one in 130,000 has been killed, the highest number by a wide margin. Of the 29, Eric Harris probably has the most troubling story, as he was shot by a reserve policeman in his 70's who apparently thought he was using his taser.
Harris was caught selling a firearm to an undercover police officer, and during his arrest Bob Bates, the reserve officer, accidentally shot him. A video was released and Harris is heard saying "He shot me, I'm losing my breath" to which an arresting officer responded "F*** your breath!" Anybody else remember "I can't breathe"?
4 Arizona: 31
Fourth on the list is Arizona, with 31 killed in a state holding a population of just over 6,500,000. In a state that has had a recent history involving some "interesting" regulations with regard to Latino immigrants, six people of Hispanic ancestry have been killed by police so far in 2015, all six to gunshots.
One of the most intense and controversial police brutality stories that has come out of Arizona so far this year involved Mario Valencia (above); who committed an armed robbery before being rammed by a police car. The officer's actions were caught on dash-cam, and while Valencia did not die, many argued that despite the fact that he was armed and had aimed his gun at an officer, the actions of the cops involved were over the top.
Out of the 31 killed in Arizona this year, 30 were killed with firearms, while one was killed in a vehicular accident.
3 Florida: 45
Up here in Canada, all most of us know about Florida is that it is a great place to go to escape the nightmarish frozen tundra we call home. Unfortunately, police throughout the state have killed over forty so far in 2015. The areas hardest hit by police killings have been Orlando, the Tampa area and Miami. Jacksonville and Tallahassee have also had a couple.
The youngest person killed by a cop so far in 2015 was 15 year old Zane Terryn, who was killed after shooting a deputy during a traffic stop. The deputy was shot first, but returned fire, killing Terryn and injuring his girlfriend, who was driving.
2 Texas: 67
Remember that old stereotype about Texans being slightly trigger-happy? Well, we are not trying to reinforce this stereotype, but 62 of the 67 people killed in Texas so far in 2015 have been killed by guns. Four of the remainder were killed by tasers and the remaining one, Jonathan Paul, died shortly after being taken into custody and being placed in an isolation cell. With just 67 kills in a population of just under 26,500,000 they are 16th in terms of kills per capita.
1 California: 105
While it has the reputation of having more hippies than one can shake a joint at, the state of California also has a massive overall population. A bit over 38,000,000 in fact and with massive cities, Los Angeles in particular, contributing much of the violence, 105 Californians have been killed by police as of July 21st, 2015. L.A. has racked up the most kills of any U.S. city so far this year with 12.
One tragic case involved Feras Morad, who was killed during a rough trip on magic mushrooms. He apparently refused orders to stop walking toward police and was tased, then shot. He was a debating champion in his high school and was in the process of preparing to attend College.
Another notorious recent case was that of Christian Siqueros, who died of cardiac arrest while in police custody. Several cops allegedly roughed him up and ended up on top of him during the altercation. As with other states, however, the vast majority of kills were achieved with firearms; 97 of the 105 to be exact. While it is first overall in terms of kills, California is 11th with regard to kills per capita, with around 2.5 per million.