Former Oklahoma Officers Charged With Manslaughter

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Former Oklahoma Officers Charged With Manslaughter
Officers Robert Hinkle and Nathan Ronan called for 29-year-old Quadry Sanders to raise his hands, but when he did, officer Hinkle opened fire.

Two Oklahoma police officers are headed to trial for shooting and killing an unarmed Black man.   

Officers Robert Hinkle and Nathan Ronan called for 29-year-old Quadry Sanders to raise his hands, but when he did, officer Hinkle opened fire.  

Both former officers face first degree manslaughter charges.  

 The charges for Hinkle and Ronan come after last year’s record-breaking number of officers (21) charged nationally in shooting deaths of civilians.  

"Even though we've seen more officers charged, the changes are not statistically significant," said Bowling Green State University Professor Philip Stinson.

According to a Bowling Green State University database, that's the most officers charged with murder or manslaughter for police shootings since at least 2005.  

"So the fact that there were more officers charged last year, frankly, has more to do with the fact that there were more shootings," Stinson continued.

Notably, 2021 was also a record-year for police violence. According to the Washington Post, police shot and killed 1,055 people in 2021. That's the highest it's been since the paper started keeping track in 2015. 

Despite this rise in indictments, prosecuting officers is still incredibly rare.  

Take 2021 for example, with more than a thousand people killed by police, prosecuting 21 of those deaths, is still less than 3% of the total.  

Convictions are even less common. Of the 165 officers charged with murder or manslaughter since 2005, less than a third (52) of those cases ended with a conviction.  

"It's an uphill battle, but it can be done," attorney Alexa Van Brunt said.

Van Brunt is a civil rights attorney and law professor at Northwestern Law School.  

"It's difficult because jurors come into those cases, automatically putting a lot of trust in the word of officers and presuming that they are, they're telling the truth, of course, because they are billed as societal protectors," Van Brunt continued. "And being on the other side of the stand. From that kind of power is difficult."

According to the Washington Post since 2015, police have fatally shot more than 6,400 people nationwide.