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More than 80 people shot by police in LA County this year, DA says

Recruits take classes in the use of deadly forces and practice scenarios at the LAPD Edward M. Davis Training Facility in Grenada Hills, Calif. on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015.
Susanica Tam
Recruits take classes in the use of deadly forces and practice scenarios at the LAPD Edward M. Davis Training Facility in Grenada Hills, Calif. on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015.

Police officers and sheriff's deputies in Los Angeles County have been involved in 85 shootings so far this year, the district attorney's office told KPCC.

That number surpasses 2014's count of 74 police shootings, and it could grow further before New Year's Day. But 85 shootings is roughly in line with the totals from the past 15 years, which topped out at 116 in 2004, and set a recent low last year.

High-profile shootings included that of Charly Leundeu Keunang, a homeless man whose death on Skid Row was captured on video, and that of Walter DeLeon, who lost a quarter of his skull after officers mistook a towel he was waving for a gun and fired on him. 

The district attorney's count of officer-involved shootings leaves out key details, including whether officers were on duty, how many people were shot in an encounter, and if those people died. A team of district attorney's investigators deploys to the scene of any shooting where someone was hit by an officer's bullet.

KPCC's investigation into five years' worth of police shootings in L.A. County — "Officer Involved" —  found the vast majority of police shootings take place on-duty. The investigation also revealed that no Los Angeles County police officer has been prosecuted for an on-duty shooting by the district attorney since 2000.

In the period KPCC reviewed, shootings between 2010 and 2014, roughly half of officer-involved-shooting incidents were fatal.

The district attorney doesn't analyze police shootings for larger patterns — including the demographics of those shot — but a Washington Post effort to track fatal police shootings in 2015 identified 41 people killed by police in L.A. County this year.

According to the Post's data, of the 41 people fatally shot in the county:

  • 33 had some kind of weapon. 13 had a gun, 10 had a knife, and others were armed with items such as beer bottles, box cutters and metal sticks
  • Eight were unarmed and four used a vehicle as a weapon
  • The majority (28) were men in their twenties and thirties
  • About half of those killed were Hispanic, eight were black and six were white. Those numbers are similar to the proportions found by KPCC from 2010 to 2014
  • Seven of those killed showed signs of mental illness.

Of the 85 shootings in 2015, the district attorney has completed its review of five. No charges have been filed in those cases.