Study shows difficulty in prosecuting police officers

Published: Dec. 6, 2016 at 11:10 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 7, 2016 at 7:44 AM EST
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The mistrial in the Michael Slager case may be troubling to both sides along with many members of the public.

However, it is another indication of how hard it is to charge a police officer in a fatal shooting and win a conviction.

Although research shows a recent increase in the number of officers charged with deadly shooting across the country, guilty verdicts remain rare. An extensive study performed by researchers at Bowling Green State University shows 54 officers faced charges, including one in Darlington County, over a 10-year period. However, they represented just a small fraction of the thousands of fatal police shooting during that time. Most of those cases that have been resolved did not lead to convictions.

The study also shows, even when officers are convicted or plead guilty, they tend to get sentences of only about four years on average.

Prosecutors and defense attorney say jury members are generally reluctant to punish police officers, viewing them as law enforcers who are allowed and expected to use force.

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