by Ed Lyon
Arizona is known for the antics of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joseph Arpaio. A hard-liner on crime, Arpaio was constantly harsh on prisoners, often to an unconstitutional extent. An alarming, statistically backed report compiled by the Arizona Republic newspaper covering 2011 to 2018 shows that state to be one of the nation’s most dangerous places to live if you’re not a cop. “Every 5 days, an Arizona officer shoots someone,” a Republic analysis finds.
The three cities in the state with the most reported police shootings are Phoenix with 201, Tucson with 55, and Maricopa County’s county seat, Mesa, in third place with 50.
Phoenix is the nation’s fifth largest city, yet its cops out-gunned even the cops in New York City, the nation’s largest city, making Phoenix, statistically speaking, the cop-shooting capital of the nation.
Hard numbers for the study period show that 13 Arizona cops were killed on duty versus Arizona cops shooting at 627 citizens in 600 incidents, killing 353. This ranks Arizona number four, behind Alaska, New Mexico, and Oklahoma, in the number of fatal police shootings per capita. The average age of citizens shot by cops is 35, and most are men. Eighty-nine percent of these citizens had a firearm.
Statewide, racial proportions of citizens shot by cops in 67 percent of identifiable cases show 43 percent white victims, 39 percent Hispanic, 13 percent black, 4 percent Native American, and less than 1 percent Asian. This is in fairly close proportion to national population demographic percentages but not so much in Phoenix. There, blacks comprise only 7 percent of the population, Hispanics 42 percent, and Native Americans only 2 percent.
Phoenix cop shootings skyrocketed in 2018 compared to 2017. Shootings more than doubled that year, while cop shootings in other similarly size cities actually fell.
Statewide saw a total of 117 cop shootings in 2018, up a full 75 percent from 2017, closely following Phoenix’s lead.
One opinion for such horrendously high cop shooting statistics in the study may be the near total lack of accountability for gun-happy cops. In 600 shooting reviews in the eight years studied, only one cop was held accountable for murdering a citizen while on duty. Former Mesa City cop Philip “Mitch” Brailsford executed 26-year-old Daniel Shaver in 2016 in a motel. Shaver was sobbing, begging for his life prior to Brailsford shooting him to death. A Maricopa County jury later acquitted him of a second-degree murder charge, as well as the lesser-included offense of reckless manslaughter. Brailsford was “temporarily rehired” so he could apply for a monthly pension, azcentral.com reports.
Law professor Kami Chavis of Winston-Salem, North Carolina’s Wake Forest University, understated: “Still, 600 police shootings and one prosecution seems like a disparity. What it suggests is that you basically have a policy of not charging police officers when you have that many over that number of years.”
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