The Los Angeles Police Department said this week that nearly a third of police shootings in 2021 involved people believed to be suffering from mental illness.
That’s higher than in 2020, according to figures released by the department after a police commission meeting on Tuesday. So far, out of 31 shootings, at least 10 have involved people with mental illness. That’s 32 percent.
The rate was 19 percent last year and just 15 percent in 2019, according to the LAPD’s annual use of force survey.
Why police are facing so many mentally ill suspects – and why these meetings are increasingly ending in gunfire – was unclear when Los Angeles Police Chief Michelle Moore presented those numbers to the commission. He said the shootings took place despite numerous attempts by the LAPD to reduce the number of shootings in general and to take steps to try to reduce the level of clashes with mentally ill suspects.
“Both of these areas have been part of the department’s efforts to keep everyone safe for the past five to seven years,” Moore said.
Moore focused on a spate of recent shootings in October, with officers firing their guns at least six times this month, including at least four times when suspects armed with knives took hostages. The chief said he would not weigh any of these shootings yet or whether the officers were in politics when they fired their weapons.
The shooting includes one incident in northeastern Los Angeles on October 1, when police were called in for a riot involving a woman who was holding her 10-year-old son at knives. When the woman started attacking her son, the officers opened fire. Both the mother and her son were injured, but were taken to a local hospital and survived.
The next day in Hollywood, the police shot and killed a man who stabbed a woman for no reason. He was wounded by a bullet, as well as a shell from a bag of beans, and was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.
Another shooting took place in downtown Los Angeles, near 8th Street and Broadway, when a man, brandishing a pistol, put a pistol to the head of a random person and pulled the trigger. The gun did not fire, but the man ran further down Broadway and opened fire on the business, hitting a 14-year-old with bullets. When the police arrived, the man took the woman hostage and the police shot him.
Moore said some of these incidents clearly involved people with mental illness, although not all of them were fully investigated by LAPD detectives.
However, all of these incidents mean that LAPD have already equalized the number of shootings for the entire last year, 31, with two months until 2021. At least 11 people have been killed by police in Los Angeles this year, up from seven in all of 2020.
The last shooting occurred in North Hills on October 24. LAPD officers approached the man in the motel parking lot to search him; he escaped, but when he escaped, he pulled out a pistol and began firing at the officers who were pursuing him. At least one of the officers returned fire.
No one was hurt and the police are still looking for this suspect.