By avoiding indictment in the lethal shooting of Michael Brown, Ferguson, Mo. police officer Darren Wilson became one of hundreds of cops whose use of force is deemed justifiable under the law each year.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation recorded 410 “justifiable homicides” in 2012, and that is self-reported by states with varying degrees of rigor. The actual count is likely higher.
Fatal shootings such as Wilson’s encounter with the unarmed Brown on Aug. 9 resonate deeply in African-American communities across the country. Black teenagers were 21 times as likely to be shot dead by an officer than white teenagers, according to statistics compiled by Pro Publica.
A police officer is charged under the same homicide laws that apply to private citizens, but most state legislatures have carved out exceptional circumstances for officers in the line of duty. In Missouri, the protections come down to three short sentences located…
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