Unreported officer-involved shootings: Texas state study shows concerinng amount

Dozens of law enforcement agencies in Texas and California failed to report: more than 200 officer-involved shootings.

As the retired San Marcos police chief, law and order is a priority for Doctor Howard Williams. He said one event inspired him to look at numbers of police involved shootings.

“We started this research following the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson. In watching a lot of the pundits, they kept referring to the fact that we don't really know how many people police officers shoot each year,” said Williams, a lecturer at Texas State University.

Williams says between 2006 and 2015 there were 220 cases missing or not reported to the Texas attorney general, 19 were later explained.

Overall that's 26 percent not reported. It is almost 30 percent for California. Both states are required to report the shootings, and in Texas it's a misdemeanor for not doing so.

“In Texas where not reporting is a crime, the AG is missing about a fourth of the cases,” said Williams.

Why is this? Williams says they aren't doing it maliciously.

“I don't think they are doing it to avoid a taint, I think they're not doing it because there are a lot of administrative cost in doing that,” he said.

“I think it is more of a record keeping issue, certainly a lack of clarity in terms of who exactly should be filing,” said Dr. Scott Bowman, Texas State professor

Case in point, there is one unreported case on the list in Austin, the justified shooting of Roger Tyrone James.  Both APD and Travis County responded to that call.

“Many times more than one agency would be involved, in which case confusion arose as to which agency was supposed to file a report, said Williams.

The two say they researched this so transparency and accuracy can be a major priority not just in Texas and California, but nationwide.

“In order to improve and be a better department that serves the community better and provides the community better information and interacting with the police, I think what's collected needs to be more comprehensive,” said Bowman.

The Houston Police Department had the highest number of unreported shootings in the report.

 

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