The NYPD shot several more people last year than in 2010, according to the department's annual firearms discharge report [pdf]. But 2010 marked an all-time low for police shootings, so the NYPD is framing the statistical spike in that context— 9 suspects were shot and killed, with an additional 19 injured by NYPD bullets in 2011, compared to 8 killed and 16 injured in 2010. There are a lot of stats in the report, but here's the NYPD explaining why you should admire their restraint:
In 2011, the number of firearms discharge incidents involving members of the New York City Police Department remained unchanged from the previous year: 92 total incidents. As was true last year, this is the smallest number of firearms discharges since the recording of police shootings in the City began. While it must be acknowledged that the most serious category of discharges—shootings involving adversarial conflict with a subject—increased by 9 percent over last year’s record low, it is also true that experiencing 36 adversarial-conflict incidents during a year makes for a remarkably infrequent rate.
In context, the rarity is even more apparent: in a city of 8.2 million people, from a Department of nearly 35,000 uniformed members who interacted with citizens in ap-proximately 23 million instances, 62 officers were involved in 36 incidents of intentional firearms discharges during an adversarial conflict, with 19 subjects injured and nine killed. This is an impressive record of firearms control.
To be sure, cops are a lot less trigger-happy compared to the early '70s, when the NYPD first started compiling stats for reports of this nature. In 1971, for instance, police shot 314 suspects. Unintentional discharges were also down last year from 2010, with 15 reported incidents of unintentional firearms discharge compared to 21 the previous year. However, incidents of cops opening fire because of an "animal attack" increased 20 percent over 2012, with 36 incidents. The NYPD hastens to explain they don't just shoot dogs in the street at the drop of a hat:
A total of 43 officers intentionally fired their weapons during these 36 incidents, up 13 percent from 2010. Additional officers were directly involved in attacks but did not fire. All of the animal attacks involved dogs. There were six officers injured in these incidents. Five officers were bitten by dogs and one officers suffered injuries from ballistic fragments during the attacks. Two civilians were also bitten by dogs in the course of these animal-attack incidents. These numbers do not encompass all dog attacks on officers or civilians, only dog-attack incidents involving intentional firearms discharges by police officers.
Of the 43 dogs involved, 12 were killed and 19 injured. Other fun facts: fewer plainclothes officers were involved in shootings than in past years. Previously, the number of plainclothes officers firing has exceeded the number of uniformed officers squeezing off rounds, despite the fact that there are far fewer plainclothes cops than their uniformed counterparts.
Also, stats suggest white officers may be a little more trigger-happy: 65 percent of the officers who fired their guns were white, which is "somewhat higher than the percentage of white officers" in the NYPD. According to the report, out of the nine suspects killed by police, five were armed with guns, two brandished knives, one was “using his vehicle as a weapon, injuring four civilians," and another had choked a detective.
Five officers were injured by gunfire, including two who were injured in a friendly fire shooting in Crown Heights that killed an innocent bystander sitting on her stoop. Her name was Denise Gay, a retired home health aide, and her murder sparked outrage from many who believed she was killed by an NYPD bullet—one of 73 shots fired at a single suspect that night. But the NYPD report notes her death with the caveat that "forensics were unable to determine definitively whose round caused her death."
Informed about the NYPD's report, her brother, Leslie Gay Jr., told the Times the police were “not owning up to it at all.” He described surveillance video of the shooting as something out of the “wild, wild West," adding, "I believe one of the police shot her."