Indicting a police officer is uncommon occurrence

AP

At least 400 people are killed by police officers in the United States every year, and while the circumstances of each case are different, one thing remains constant: In only a handful of instances do grand juries issue an indictment, concluding that the officer has committed a crime.

Successful prosecutions generally involve officers who have lied about what they’ve done, tried to cover up their actions, or used excessive force to inflict punishment.

Even as protesters took to the streets Wednesday to decry the failure of a grand jury to indict an officer who used a fatal chokehold on an unarmed man in New York City, a grand jury in South Carolina voted to bring murder charges against Richard Combs, a small town police chief who fatally shot an unarmed man who had come to Town Hall to contest a traffic ticket.

Earlier this year, a grand jury in North Carolina indicted a Charlotte-Mecklenburg officer for fatally shooting a former college football player who was knocking on doors looking for help after he drove his car off the road.

And a police officer in North Augusta, South Carolina, was indicted in August on a charge of misconduct in office after he shot a 68-year-old man who had failed to pull over for a traffic stop, and instead drove home.

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