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Patrick Lyoya was one of 1,181 civilians that were killed by cops in the US in 2022

January 8, 2023

According to the site Mapping Police Violence, 2022 saw the highest number of people killed by the police in the US since this data has been collected.

In Grand Rapids, Michigan, 26 year old Patrick Lyoya was shot in the back of the head by a Grand Rapids cop, after Lyoya had been stopped for having expired tags on his license plate. The police murder of Patrick Lyoya shocked the Grand Rapids community, even though activists had been predicting this for years and calling for the defunding of the GRPD since June of 2020. 

Christopher Schurr, the cop who shot Lyoya in the back of the head, was fired from the GRPD and charged with second degree murder a few months after the killing. According to Mapping Police Violence, since 2013, in 98.1% of cases where a cop killed a civilian, a police officer was NOT charged with a crime. Considering how much of a public outcry has happened over the Patrick Lyoya case, where the ex-cop was charged, imagine how most of the other communities in the country have felt when no cops were charged with a crime after they killed someone.

Then there is the issue of police killings that are not reported. As researchers showed in a study published in The Lancet in 2021, about half of killings by law enforcement agents go unreported, so the true number of people killed by the police last year may be double the figure reported by Mapping Police Violence. Double the number of people killed by police in 2020, would put it just under 2400.

The high rate of police killings of civilians is not an aberration, it is systemic. Samuel Sinyangwe, a data scientist and policy analyst who founded Mapping Police Violence, recently said, “These are routine police encounters that escalate to a killing. What’s clear is that it’s continuing to get worse, and that it’s deeply systemic.”

The data on police killings of civilians for 2022 is certainly alarming in and of itself. However, considering that there were millions of people globally who took to the streets and engaged in open rebellion in 2020 after the police murder of George Floyd, one would have thought that police departments would have reduced the number of times they killed people. This has not been the case, for two main reasons. 

First, there is a lack of real accountability of police departments, due in part to how powerful their unions are. The second reason has to do with the fact that there has been a bi-partisan effort to increase the amount of police funding across the country since the 2020 uprising. This increase in funding for police was made painfully clear by President Biden when he unveiled his “Safer America Plan,” which would provide $37 billion in funding for policing and a commitment to add an additional 100,000 more cops across the nation. With the lack of real accountability and consequences for cops who kill people, along with the commitment to increase funding for cops coming from the highest office, we should expect the number of people killed by cops to stay at a high level or possibly even increase.

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