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2 Mar, 2016 00:01

LAPD shootings of mentally ill, in-custody deaths surge in 2015 – report

LAPD shootings of mentally ill, in-custody deaths surge in 2015 – report

The number of people shot by the Los Angeles Police Department who were mentally ill nearly tripled in 2015 compared to the year before, according to a new police report. In-custody deaths also tripled.

More than a third of all 38 LAPD shootings that occurred last year – or 14, to be exact – involved an individual with documented signs of mental illness, the report stated. This is up significantly from five in 2014, which actually represented a drop from 10 in 2013.

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

Overall, 38 people with documented signs of mental illness were shot between 2011 and 2015, the LAPD data showed. During that same time period 174 people were shot overall.

The numbers from the police department are noticeably higher than when KPCC looked into the numbers independently. It found the LAPD shot 17 people with mental illness over a five-year period between 2010-2014, only three more than police data showed occurred in the one year of 2015.

Police said that mental illnesses were uncovered during post-shooting investigations and that officers may not have known about a victim’s condition at the time of the incident.

Meanwhile, the report found that the number of deaths of people in police custody also spiked, climbing to 12 last year. In 2014, the number was at four. 

Of course, the report’s findings were revealed as police departments across the nation come under the microscope over their behavior. Many critics argue that officers are too quick to use potentially lethal force, especially against African-Americans. Blacks comprised about 21 percent of all people shot by the LAPD last year, though they make up only 9 percent of the city’s population.

"There's things that I'm sure we're going to discover in this report; others will raise questions that we'll not have answers to that will cause us to dig deeper and to look further," Assistant Chief Michel Moore told the LA Times. "At the end of the day, the instances in which we use force ... is extremely rare. But at the same time, each incident is one too many if it can be avoided."

Last year, controversy was sparked after the LAPD police chief and an independent watchog found police were justified in using lethal force against a mentally ill 25-year-old black man in 2014. The man was reportedly angling for an officer’s gun when he was shot.

READ MORE: LAPD officers 'justified' in deadly shooting of mentally ill black man - report

In another case that occurred last year, officers shot dead a homeless man who had apparently just spent years in a mental facility. 

In the latest LAPD report, police said 19 of the 38 people they shot were in possession of a gun. Eight of the 21 fatally shot were either under the influence of drugs or alcohol.