Famous Incredibly Controversial Police Shootings from the Past Ten Years

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The Police are there to protect the citizens of the city, state or country and sometimes ‘ sadly ‘ they have to kill or attempt to kill in their public duty of protection. Equally sadly, with so much responsibility (and sometimes believing themselves above the law) they shoot and injure or kill the wrong person. It doesn’t just take place in the USA where guns are freely available, but also in other countries too.

1. California, USA, 2012: Kendric McDade

In one of the most tragic shootings ever, this black unarmed teenager was shot and killed by officers responding to a burglary call from a homeowner in the city. The burglary call later turned out to be fake, and the caller was charged and convicted of making a false report. McDade was shot eight times. In June 2014, the city of Pasadena settled a compensation claim in a civil lawsuit with the mother for the loss of her son.

2. Toronto, Canada, 2013: James Forcillo

Police Shooting Toronto 20130820
In a rare case of police officers put on trial for murder, and one where agencies were forced to act thanks to a video of the incident going viral on social media, Forcillo was believed to have shot and killed a teenage boy armed only with a knife. He had been on an empty streetcar (tram) when the incident occurred. The audio suggests that Forcillo ordered the boy to drop his knife before shooting him three times.

3. London, England, 2005: Jean Charles de Menezes

The Met Police, concerned about further attacks after two separate Islamist attacks in London in July 2005, fatally shot dead an innocent Brazilian man at Stockwell Tube Station in an apparent misidentification of a suspected associated with a failed bombing attempt the previous day. When challenged by Police, de Menezes ran and boarded a train at which point he was wrestled to the ground on the train and shot in the head. No charges were brought against any officers but there were serious criticisms of procedures of suspected terrorists.

4. Paris, France, 2010: Unnamed Malian Man

French men held hostage for 3 years by al-Qaida arrive back in France
In some rare cases, deaths result from non-fatal methods of ‘shooting’ and this was certainly the case in France. The taser had been controversial in France since its introduction and protests were fuelled by the death of an unnamed Malian man who was challenged on suspicion of being an illegal immigrant. When asked for his papers, the man got angry and lashed out leading to the officers tasering him, using tear gas and then finally a baton. He collapsed while the officers carried him out of the building; he later died. Critics questioned the necessity of shooting the man twice with the taser.

5. Schönfließ, Germany, 2008: Dennis J.

Germany’s most controversial police shooting is a rare case of an unarmed man being shot and killed. It happened on New Year’s Eve in 2008 and caused a stir in Germany and eventually went to court where the perpetrator claimed self-defence. The court was not convinced and suspended the shooter for two years on the grounds that he had aimed at the man’s chest, adding ‘if you want to kill a person, you will aim at their head or chest’. He also lost his job.

6. London, England, 2011: Mark Duggan

Though official reports cleared the police of any wrongdoing, and that Duggan was armed and threatening the London Police officers involved and that a key witness was revealed to have supplied Duggan with the gun, this incident led to a critical breakdown in relationship between the Met Constabulary and the area of London where he lived. Even those who felt the Police had no choice but to shoot, believe that there was some sort of cover-up. The incident led to riots in London. A court case eventually ruled it a lawful killing.

7. Illinois, USA, 2005: Howard Morgan

Howard Morgan
One of the strangest shootings in the last ten years involved a retired police officer and a group of his former colleagues. Morgan was pulled over after driving the wrong way down a one way street. What happened next had two conflicting stories. According to the officers, when challenged, Morgan pulled a gun and shot at the men who shot back in self-defence; they fired a total of 28 bullets. According to Morgan who miraculously survived the shooting, he had not threatened the men and when they spotted his gun, started shooting at him.

8. India, 2005: Sohrabuddin Sheikh

‘Encounter Killings’ are a well-known series of abductions by Police of known criminals in India. Unauthorised by law, they are defined as staging an encounter in order to eliminate a high-level criminal and then planting evidence to implicate a shoot-out, killing in self-defence etc. Though this took place in 2005, the investigation is ongoing. Sheikh was a well-known arms smuggler and was abducted ‘ along with him wife ‘ from a public bus and taken away by police. Both were later killed.

9. Vancouver, Canada, 2007: Paul Boyd

American born animator Boyd had been suffering mental illness for years. On the day of his death he had a severe bipolar attack, shouting at somebody in a Sushi bar and later at a bus stop – mistaking both men for somebody he knew. Realising his mistake, he apologised both times. At that point, responding to an emergency call, two officers arrived to question him. Believing him violent they ordered him to the ground so they could arrest him. There are several reports of what happened next: Boyd either threw a bicycle chain, hit one of the officers with a hammer, or fled the scene. Either way, one of the officers shot Boyd. There remains man questions regarding this case.

10. Colorado, USA, 2008: James Davies

Being shot and killed accidently by a colleague because they thought you were a criminal is tragic, but when the shooting officer had already been accused (and cleared) of shooting another man then you are going to ask some serious questions. However, a catalogue of errors on the part of Davies who failed to identify himself to Devaney Braley, means that ultimately the misadventure was placed at the feet of the dead man and his superiors.


While there are people with malevolent intentions, sadly accidental shootings are going to be a fact of life. Arguably, we can do more to reduce the number of needless fatalities and bring to trial those who have acted inappropriately in the pursuit of their duty. This is why inquiries and trials must be in place to protect the public and to ensure that proper procedures are followed at all times.

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