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Dramatic increase in mentally ill shot by LAPD officers

An officer-involved shooting occurred Friday in Los Feliz.
Brian Frank/KPCC file photo
LAPD had 48 officer-involved shootings in 2015, including this one in Los Feliz.

Last year saw a sharp increase in the number of people with mental illness shot at by Los Angeles Police Department officers.

In 2015, LAPD officers were involved in 15 shootings where the suspect showed signs of mental illness — triple the number of 2014 — according to department figures released at Tuesday's meeting of the L.A. Police Commission. Of those incidents, the department considered 12 "suicide by cop" situations. 

The report comes months after a KPCC investigation into the circumstances of officer-involved shootings in Los Angeles County over a five-year period. KPCC found that, countywide, people with mental illness were the targets of 11 percent of officer-involved shootings from 2010-2014, according to District Attorney reports. LAPD had the highest number with 17. 

But LAPD's numbers from 2015 are much higher, indicating nearly a third of the people shot at by officers were mentally ill. 

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said the department's report is meant to “build a framework” for further discussion with the community and analysis of how shootings happen. 

“We did see a troubling increase with mental illness," said LAPD Capt. Greg McManus during his presentation of the report. “That’s an increase we are looking at.”  

McManus said the department's working to address the issue through training.

All in all, there were 48 officer-involved LAPD shootings last year. Nearly half the people officers shot at were Hispanic. The next most common race was black at 25 percent, followed by 15 percent white. Asians and those of "other" or "unknown" races made up the remaining 12 percent. 

More than a dozen Black Lives Matter protesters attended Tuesday's meeting, which also marked the one-year anniversary of the death of Charly "Africa" Keunang, a homeless man shot to death by LAPD officers outside his tent on Skid Row. 

Beck has said Keunang reached for an officer’s gun. Last month, the police commission found issues with the officer’s tactics, but decided the shooting was within policy.

“Can’t kill Africa,” protesters shouted, as LAPD officers escorted them out of the room. 

The police commission’s Use of Force report comes after growing concerns over the lack of uniform reporting of officer-involved shootings across the nation. A new California law expands data collection of officer-involved shootings from local law enforcement agencies starting in 2017. 

The number of officers injured during officer-involved shootings also rose from 5 in 2014 to 14 in 2015.

Read the official executive summary of the report below:

Use Of Force executive summary

This story has been updated.