High-Profile Fatal Police Shootings that Ignited Civil Rights Protests Across the US

Since time immemorial, millions of lives have been lost due to fatal police shootings. However, the most controversial incidents involving civilians and men in uniform that have earned the ire of the public are those that led to the deaths of Black Americans, including George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black American who was brutally killed by a white police officer after he was accused of using a fake bill to buy a pack of cigarettes at a deli. His death led to protests and riots around the country.

Here’s a compilation of other high-profile police shooting incidents that led to numerous civil rights demonstrations across the United States.

Eric Garner, 43

In July 2014, a bystander was able to record a video of Garner being cornered by police officers who alleged that he was selling loose cigarettes on the street. Despite Garner saying “I can’t breathe” repeatedly, the officer didn’t budge. Within minutes, Garner became unconscious.

Laquan McDonald, 17

In October 2014, Chicago police officers received a call about a person trying to break into vehicles. When authorities got to the scene, they found McDonald carrying a knife, which he used to slash a police car’s tire. Officer Jason Van Dyke then arrived at the scene and started shooting at McDonald at least 16 times. A dashboard camera footage that was hidden by Chicago officials for over a year revealed that the 17-year-old was moving away from the officer when he started shooting at him.

Breonna Taylor, 26

Taylor was shot in her apartment in Kentucky after plainclothes officers barged into her home as part of an ongoing drug deal investigation in the area. Because the officers forced entry into Taylor’s home, her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired a warning shot at them thinking they were intruders because he didn’t hear them identify themselves. According to the reports, one of the officers, Jonathan Mattingly, was hit in the leg, urging the other officers to fire 32 shots in return. Luckily for Walker, he was unharmed. Unfortunately, Taylor was hit by 6 bullets and died.

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