ORLANDO, Fla. » Seventy percent of the 50 people shot at by Orlando police officers since 2009 are black men, according to data released today by the Orlando Police Department.
Of those officer-involved shootings, 12 of the 16 men killed by police were black men, the data shows.
Orlando Police Chief John Mina said race does not play a role in an officer’s decision to use a weapon.
“If you look at the merits of each individual case and the investigation, it is clear that race doesn’t factor into the decision for an officer to use deadly force,” Mina said.
But Natalie Jackson, a civil rights attorney, said the numbers were concerning, especially when considering the Orlando population is about 28 percent black.
The high number is based on a “cultural fear of black men.”
“This is what the Black Lives Matter movement is all about,” she said.
Orlando officers are only allowed to use force when there is a threat of great bodily harm to themselves or others, according to department policy.
The data was released as part of Orlando police’s involvement in the White House Police Data Initiative. The program recommends that departments use data to help the public better understand police.
Orlando also has released calls for service and use of force reports.
Mina said the data was released to show the department is transparent and can be accountable to the public. He said Orlando is one of only 15 departments nationwide to release such data.
“(It) demonstrates our commitment to this type of transparency and openness and will further enhance public trust,” he said.
There were 41 people shot by police since 2009 and 9 people who were shot at but not hit, the data shows.
The information includes the names, ages and races of the officers and suspects. It also has the type of incident officers were responding to, the type of weapon used by the suspect and the officers’ age and tenure.
“Unfortunately, it says the law enforcement profession is dangerous and we have to deal with violent offenders who have intentions of harming our officers,” Mina said.
Overall, the number of times police officers fire their weapons is low when compared to the number of interactions they have with the public, Mina said.
“The vast majority of incidents with police are peacefully resolved,” he said.
Of the 50 suspects in the 47 officer-involved shootings info about them includes:
—48 were male
—The youngest was 16, the oldest was 57
—15 were white, although the department did not list the ethnicity of the suspect (such as Hispanic)
—27 had guns, 15 were in vehicles (one of which the suspect had a gun), one had a baseball bat
In the 88 instances of an officer firing a weapon, info about the officers includes:
—86 were male
—60 were white, 12 were Hispanic, 12 were black and 4 were another race
—The average age was about 34
—The average tenure was about 7 years
Police have come under scrutiny in recent years in shootings of unarmed men.
There were four incidents listed where the unarmed person was shot by Orlando police because the suspect reached for something or got into a fight with police.
“It is difficult to comment on other situations throughout the nation but I believe this could be a result of our training,” Mina said. “We are able to train more than just the state requires to maintain our law enforcement certifications. I believe we receive some of the best training in the country.”
The four do not include the 2014 fatal shooting of Maria Godinez, who was hit by a stray bullet fired by Orlando Police Officer Eduardo Sanguino at Kody Roach.
It also says a man, Karvas Gamble Jr., was armed when he was shot and killed by police, but his family disputes the fact that he had a gun.
All but one officer was cleared of wrongdoing in the cases. Officer David Johnston was fired and charged by the state attorney’s office after he fired at a vehicle from nearly 90 feet away. He was sentenced to 5 years’ probation.
©2016 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)