The failure of the St. Louis County grand jury to hand down an indictment against the officer who fatally shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown caused uproar and protest, but law enforcement experts say that indictments against police officers are rare.
The perceived lack of indictment of police by grand juries could be due to multiple reasons, including a Supreme Court decision in a case involving orange juice, as well as the complex relationships between police departments and district attorneys.
There have been close to 1,000 people killed by police since January 1, 2014, and over 1,750 since May 2013, according to the website FiveThirtyEight.
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Against those figures is data from the FBI Crime Reports – based on police departments’ own records – which say that of the 533,895 police officers hired to protect and serve 247 million Americans, 27 officers died in 2013 in the line of duty. In 26 cases, those deaths were caused by males. Fifteen of the men were white, 11 were black, and all had criminal records.