NEW YORK (AP) — New York Police Department officers were involved in more shooting incidents — resulting in more suspect deaths — in 2012 compared to the previous year, according to an annual firearms report released on Tuesday.
Officers with the nation's largest police department intentionally fired their guns in 45 confrontations last year, up from 36 in 2011. In those, police killed 16 suspects compared to nine the year before — the highest number since 19 were killed in 1998.
Among those killed was Ramarley Graham, an unarmed 18-year-old whose shooting by a narcotics officer inside his Bronx home sparked community outrage. A judge tossed out criminal charges against the officer based on a legal error, and a grand jury voted not to re-indict him.
Police officials said Tuesday that the tally for fatal shootings is down this year: there have been seven fatal suspect shootings so far in 2013 whereas all 16 of 2012's shootings had happened by this time last year. This year's total includes the shooting in Brooklyn on Monday of a man who police say lunged at an officer with a knife.
The yearly firearms report is considered a barometer of gun violence in a city where outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made taking illegal guns off the street a crusade. Police officials insist that even with the rise in police shooting incidents, the number remains small given the size of the threat and indicates that most officers show restraint when deciding whether to use deadly force.
In 2012, the NYPD responded to 246,621 reports of people using or displaying weapons of all kinds, according to the report. There were 26,019 weapons arrests, including 5,689 involving guns.
"In other words, there were more than 26,000 incidents in which an officer took an armed suspect into custody without firing his or her weapon," the report says.
Armed suspects shot 13 officers in 2012, none fatally, compared to only four in 2011, the report says.
Police gunfire wounded 10 bystanders in 2012, all but one hit during a shootout with a suspect outside the Empire State Building after the man killed his former boss. Officers fired 16 times, hitting the man nine times, the report says.
The report also tracks unintended or unauthorized shootings, including suicides. It says that in 2012, eight officers committed suicide, up from three in 2011.