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2016 ended with 89 police shootings in LA County — 1 every 4 days

A police officer in uniform.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
An LAPD police officer in uniform, with gun holstered.

Police officers and sheriff's deputies in Los Angeles County were involved in 89 shootings last year, according to the L.A. District Attorney's office. The number includes people who were wounded and those killed by a police officer's bullet.

Eight-nine incidents in one year breaks down to approximately one shooting every four days in L.A. County.

That tally is identical to 2015's total, and it's in line with totals from recent years. While the circumstances of police shootings vary dramatically, they happen often around Los Angeles.

The DA's data shows 1,442 officer-involved shootings over the last 16 years. The number of shootings hit a recent high in 2013, at 111.

The DA's count includes on and off-duty incidents, among them high-profile police shootings from 2016. Those included a man shot while driving his car in El Monte and a string of shootings in Watts that led to community outrage.

One of the most controversial incidents was the killing of Jesse Romero, a 14 year-old who was shot to death in Boyle Heights by LAPD officers. A loaded gun was found at the scene.

The District Attorney investigates each shooting in the county for criminal charges. But the law grants officers broad leeway in their decision to shoot, and no officer has been charged in connection with a shooting since 2000 in Los Angeles County.

The DA's count doesn't capture significant details such as which law enforcement agencies were involved, if a shooting was fatal, and the race of the people shot.

A KPCC review of hundreds of L.A. County police shootings between 2010 and 2014 found that one in four people shot by police was unarmed, and that black Angelenos were shot at a far higher rate than other races.

In addition to police shootings, the DA investigates in-custody deaths, which is when an officer or deputy uses force on a suspect or inmate who later dies.

There were just four in-custody deaths in L.A. County in 2016 – the lowest total in at least 16 years, according to DA spokesman Greg Risling. There were 10 in-custody deaths in 2015.

Fatal shootings far higher than other areas

While the number of shootings has been relatively steady in L.A. County, nationwide data suggests that the number of deaths at the hands of law enforcement is high in Southern California.

The Guardian newspaper tracks deaths involving law enforcement, including how many people were killed by specific agencies.

Its data shows 19 people were fatally shot by the Los Angeles Police Department last year, the highest figure for any agency in the nation. The analysis also shows that Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deputies fatally shot 16 people, the second highest tally of any agency in the nation.

High numbers of shootings aren't surprising for the LAPD and sheriff's department, which have among the most sworn officers of any local law enforcement agency in the country. But police in Chicago and New York recorded fewer shooting deaths, even with more sworn officers at each agency.

The 2016 data repeated a pattern seen in the Guardian's 2015 data. It showed that the LAPD and sheriff's department also fatally shot more people than other law enforcement agencies in the U.S. that year as well.