alone and triggered: rural policing leads to fatal shootings at high rates without the protests
1,200 people have been shot and killed in rural areas from 2015-2020, but the outcry is much quieter than in urban areas, your Friday long read from TMP, NYT and KCIR
We go to The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, The Marshall Project and The New York Times for this week’s long read by Alysia Santo and R.G. Dunlop, read the whole article “Shooting first and asking questions later.” We include key excerpts below to convince you it’s worth your time!
“In rural communities, fatal police shootings have occurred at high rates, without the attention (and protests) that urban shootings have drawn.”
PIPPA PASSES, KY. — The man known all his life as Doughboy had been running from the state police for months: scrambling down a creek bed, flooring it out of a gas station, visiting his children at 2 a.m. when he thought troopers wouldn’t be lurking.
Christopher Jacobs, 28, had been charged with manufacturing methamphetamine. He couldn’t bear to go back to jail, he told his family, but he also feared the police would shoot him — even though he had been childhood friends with officers now patrolling this remote stretch of eastern Kentucky.
So when a state trooper and a sheriff’s deputy — brothers — pulled into the Jacobs family driveway on Hemp Patch Road on Nov. 1, 2017, Jacobs’ first move was to crawl under a mobile home and hide, police records show.
His second was to start yelling, “Don’t kill me!” He jumped into his Chevrolet Impala and tried to flee. There was a scuffle, and the officers fired Tasers as he struggled to start the car. Then he rammed an empty police cruiser.
Leo Slone, a trooper who had grown up with Jacobs and once helped save his life after a drug overdose, shot him three times. Jacobs died at the scene.
Officers in rural areas fatally shot about 1,200 people from 2015 through 2020, while in cities there were at least 2,100 such deaths, according to the news organizations’ analysis of data compiled by The Washington Post; no comprehensive government database exists.
The data analysis found that, although the rate of rural police shootings was about 30% lower than the urban rate when adjusted for population, the rural incidents mirrored many of the dynamics of police shootings that have come under scrutiny in cities.
And even as deadly police shootings declined in cities and rural communities during this time, according to the analysis, the rural decrease was more modest: about 9% versus 19%.
The evening of the shooting, he and his brother “tried everything,” Slone told investigators. He had to shoot, he said, because he was afraid Jacobs would hit them with the Impala.
But several witnesses disputed that account, including Daniel Hanson, who said he saw the shooting from his yard across the street. The Impala wasn’t moving when the trooper fired, Hanson said. “They had no right to shoot him,” he added.
Less than three months after Jacobs’ death, a grand jury declined to indict Slone.
Jacobs’ mother, Terrie Jacobs, said this spring that she was still mourning the son who, as a pudgy baby, had so resembled the Pillsbury Doughboy that the nickname stuck until the day he died.
“I’m going to have this hurt with me all my life,” Jacobs said. “Till they bury me.”
Read the whole article here.
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