List of deadly police encounters

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This is a List of deadly police encounters, including any incidents where a person's death was caused by gunfire, tasers or blunt trauma inflicted intentionally by law enforcement officers, regardless of whether the use of force was deemed justified. The list does not include people killed accidentally during encounters with law enforcement, or killed by suspects fleeing from or shooting at police.

According to Birmingham Public Library archivist Jim Baggett, the Birmingham Police Department recorded incidents of police shootings between 1939 and 1972 on 3" x 5" index cards, of which 109 are preserved.

In 2020 John Archibald and Roy S. Johnson worked with Jefferson County Chief Deputy Medical Examiner Jay Glass to document more than 500 fatal police encounters in Jefferson County since 1909 for their Reckon Radio podcast series "Unjustifiable", about the 1979 fatal shooting of Bonita Carter. More than 80% of those killed were Black, and most such incidents were deemed justifiable. Of the 213 "justifiable" fatal police shootings in Jefferson County between the 1940s to the 1970s, 200 of those killed were Black.

Currently, all incidents of officer-involved shootings and other deaths from the use of force by police officers are investigated by the Alabama State Bureau of Investigation. In late 2019 Jay Town, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, announced the formation of an "Independent Shooting Review Advisory Council" (ISRAC) that would be equipped to advise local law enforcement agencies investigating police-involved shootings.

Northeastern University's Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project, led by director Margaret Burnham, collected news reports documenting 127 incidents of law enforcement officers using deadly force in Jefferson County between 1932 and 1968. Of those killed, only four were white. Only two deadly incidents studies resulted in criminal charges against the officer, with no convictions. One Birmingham Police officer, James Hale Jr, was implicated in five such deaths, after which he was promoted to the rank of detective.

1890s

  • December 14, 1895: Lizzie Durr, 13, was shot to death by Birmingham Police officer J. Nathan Byers while she and two other youngsters were gathering coal before dawn alongside a railroad track. An arrest warrant was sworn out by Durr's older brother. At a preliminary hearing he claimed that she had been stealing from a coal car and leaped down onto him, accidently causing his gun to fire. Annie Sims said that she and Lizzie were running away when she was shot in the back of the head. Large crowds gathered at Shiloh Baptist Church and at the Jefferson County Courthouse to petition for justice. A grand jury found insufficient evidence to charge Byers with a crime. He was suspended from duty for a few days and later reinstated.

1900s

1910s

1930s

1940s

  • 1941: Eugene Whitfield was shot and killed by Birmingham police. The shooting was ruled justifiable.
  • February 15, 1942: Henry Brown Jr was eating at Rena Lewis' restaurant at 1429 8th Avenue South when a police officer raised the side window, stuck his arm and head through, and fired. His bullet grazed the shoulder of another patron, Will Rogers, before lodging in Brown's head. The officer claimed at a hearing that a radio had been thrown at him, but a reporter found the only radio in the restaurant to be functioning and unscuffed. The shooting was ruled justified. (link)
  • 1947: A 16-year-old Black male was shot to death by police outside a girls' boarding school on Southside. The shooting was ruled justifiable.
  • 1947: Thomas Eddie Jennings, 26, was identified by a witness as having taken $26 from a restaurant cash register three weeks earlier. He was shot and killed by police. The shooting was ruled justifiable.
  • March 27, 1948: Ike Madden, 27, was killed by Birmingham police, who claimed he was resisting arrest.
  • March 29, 1948: John Johnson, 30 or 50, was killed by Birmingham police, who claimed he was resisting arrest.
  • April 19, 1948: Alma Shaw, 43, was killed by Birmingham police, who claimed she was resisting arrest.
  • April 27, 1948: Marion Franlin Noble, 19, was killed by Birmingham police, who claimed she was resisting arrest.
  • August 1948: Joe W. Perkins, 26, was killed by Birmingham police, who claimed she was resisting arrest.
  • July 29, 1948: Walter Dandridge, 32, was killed by Birmingham police, who claimed he was resisting arrest.
  • 1948: Theris Rudolph Wood, 19, was shot to death by police in the East Lake area who responded to a call of a peeping tom and spotted him running in the vicinity. The shooting was ruled justifiable.

1950s

  • October 21, 1954: Frank E. Roper, 46, was shot to death by a police officer responding to a homicide in Powderly. Roper had killed a 4-year-old boy by slashing him with a home-made 20-inch knife. Roper reportedly resisted arrest while still armed with the knife. Police later stated that Roper professed the Islamic faith.
  • 1958: Eddie Wallace Adams was shot to death while driving what police claimed was a stolen vehicle. The shooting was ruled justifiable.
  • 1958: Curtis Miller, 25, was shot to death after failing to comply with an order to "halt". He was suspected of having shoplifted $11 worth of lipstick and perfume. The shooting was ruled justifiable.

1960s

  • September 5, 1963: John L. Coley was killed as police fired "tommy guns, rifles and shotguns" over the heads of a crowd gathered outside the home of attorney Arthur Shores, which had been targeted by dynamiters earlier that day. Initial reports suggested that Coley had emerged from a nearby house firing a gun. It was later confirmed that he was unarmed. The shooting was deemed justifiable.
  • September 15, 1963: Johnny Robinson, a teenager, was shot to death hours after the deadly bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church. He was accused of throwing rocks at cars. Officer Jack Parker claimed that the shooting was accidental, and eyewitnesses were abducted and terrorized by other officers. Jefferson County prosecutors and a federal grand jury both declined to indict Parker. A 2009 FBI review of the case, 32 years after Parker died, found it likely that Robinson was murdered.
  • 1966: Claud J. Jackson was shot to death by a police officer who claimed that Jackson had thrown an ashtray at him. The shooting was deemed justifiable.
  • 1968: Aaron Robinson was shot to death by police. The shooting was deemed justifiable.
  • 1968: Bobby Thomas was shot to death by police. The shooting was deemed justifiable.
  • 1968: Elvert Givins was shot to death by police. The shooting was deemed justifiable.
  • 1968: Willie Otis Martin was shot to death by police. The shooting was deemed justifiable.
  • 1968: Charles Hamilton Jackson was shot to death by police. The shooting was deemed justifiable.
  • 1968: Robert Anderson was shot to death by police. The shooting was deemed justifiable.
  • 1968: Larry Jones was shot to death by police. The shooting was deemed justifiable.
  • 1968: Joseph Spencer was shot to death by police. The shooting was deemed justifiable.
  • 1968: obert Haywood Allen was shot to death by police. The shooting was deemed justifiable.
  • 1968: Walter White was shot to death by police. The shooting was deemed justifiable.
  • 1969: John Howard Clonts was shot to death by police. The shooting was deemed justifiable.

1970s

1980s

1990s

  • January 28, 1995: Dan Davis Jr was shot to death by Birmingham Police Officer Charles Forbes during a struggle. Forbes saw a group of four men around a van on the 1200 block of 29th Street North in Norwood and asked them to disperse. Davis refused to comply and resisted when Forbes attempted to arrest him. During the struggle, Forbes shot Davis, who then fled. Witnesses say that Forbes chased him down and shot him once more in the back. Forbes was charged with murder and convicted at trial on a lesser charge of manslaughter. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but earned early release in 2000 after just over three years served.
  • 1996: A Phillips High School student was shot at his own home during an investigation into a reported burglary.

2000s

2010s

2020s

References

External links