Intentional Firearm Discharges At Offenders Up 25 Percent

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A new report has said the number of NYPD officers who fired their guns, and the number of suspects they killed, increased in 2012 compared with the year before.

Officers intentionally fired their weapons in 45 “adversarial conflict” incidents in 2012 — a 25 percent increase from the year before, the report said.

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Sixteen suspects were killed last year compared to nine in 2011.

Among those killed was Ramarley Graham, an unarmed 18-year-old whose shooting by a narcotics officer inside his Bronx home sparked community outrage. A judge tossed out criminal charges against the officer based on a legal error, and a grand jury voted not to re-indict him.

Police officials said Tuesday that the tally for fatal shootings is down this year — there have been seven fatal suspect shootings so far in 2013 whereas all 16 of 2012’s shootings had happened by this time last year. This year’s total includes the shooting in Brooklyn on Monday of a man who police say lunged at an officer with a knife.

The yearly firearms report is considered a barometer of gun violence in a city where outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made taking illegal guns off the street a crusade. Police officials insist that even with the rise in police shooting incidents, the number remains small given the size of the threat and indicates that most officers show restraint when deciding whether to use deadly force.

In total, officers fired their weapons 105 times last year. In addition to adversarial conflict, the tally includes firearm discharges for animal attacks, unintentional discharges, unauthorized uses of firearms, suicides or suicide attempts, and firings stemming from mistaken identity – of which there were none last year.

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Police gunfire wounded 10 bystanders in 2012, all but one hit during a shootout with a suspect outside the Empire State Building after the man killed his former boss. Officers fired 16 times, hitting the man nine times, the report says.

The peak years in recent history for firearm discharge incidents by NYPD officers stemming from adversarial conflict were 2005 and 2006, when there were 59 such incidents.

But the number of suspects killed was the highest number since 19 were killed in 1998.

The report also noted that 13 officers were struck by gunfire. Only four were hit in 2011.

In 2012, the NYPD responded to 246,621 reports of people using or displaying weapons of all kinds, according to the report. There were 26,019 weapons arrests, including 5,689 involving guns.

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