The 15 Most Horrific Cases Of Police Brutality In History

Brianna Acuesta | True Activist

They don’t always end in death, but the scars left on the victims and on society will last forever.


Situations involving horrible and unjustifiable deaths at the hands of police brutality are not exclusive to the 21st century, but the ability to record and post videos documenting the deaths is a novelty. The Black Lives Matter movement was fueled by the viral videos of police officers harming and killing unarmed black people, and it’s only the most recent group to protest these offenses in a long line of groups in the last century.

Though most of these cases of police brutality weren’t caught on film, they still managed to make headlines despite lies told by the police to cover up the stories. Their deaths and the subsequent acquittal of most of these officers has sparked outrage, protests, and riots. Read below to find out about the worst and most infamous cases of police brutality in history.

1. Frank Jude, Jr.


In 2004, 26-year-old Frank Jude was viciously beaten by several off-duty Milwaukee police officers as he was leaving a party. The group of men attacked Jude and his friend, Lovell Harris, claiming they stole one of the officer’s wallets that contained their police badge. Harris’ face was cut with a knife, but he was able to get free and run away. Jude was repeatedly punched and kicked, as well as stabbed in the ears with a pen so viciously that they bled profusely for over an hour. Even the on-duty officer who was called to stop the fight began stomping on Jude’s head. In the state trial, the jury acquitted the three officers charged. There was a great deal of community outrage and demand for a federal investigation. The federal grand jury convicted the three officers who were originally acquitted, but did acquit the fourth officer. The badge was never found.

2. Kathryn Johnston


Kathryn Johnston was tragically killed by two Atlanta police officers during a botched drug raid in 2006. The 92-year-old woman was alone inside her home when the officers burst in without warning. She fired at them with an old revolver, which didn’t hit any of the officers, and they fired back at her 39 times. She was struck 5-6 times and handcuffed as she lay on her floor dying. The officers allegedly uncovered three bags of marijuana in her home, which they later admitted to planting there as false evidence when they found no drugs. The informant they claimed had bought drugs from her house said that he had never obtained drugs from her, and the two police officers involved in the shooting plead guilty to manslaughter.

3. Sean Bell


Sean Bell was killed by NYPD detectives in late 2006, on the eve of his wedding, after the officers opened fire on his car, ultimately shooting at it 50 times. Bell and two of his friends were in the car, each of them suffering from serious bullet wounds, but Bell was the only one that died. The detectives were undercover at the strip club where Bell and his friends were at for his bachelor party because the club was suspected of being involved in prostitution. Accounts vary widely, but Bell’s friends were leaving the club after an argument with someone else outside of the bar. The officers said that they heard the men say they were going to get a gun, so one of them allegedly identified themselves as an officer (since he was undercover and in plain-clothes) and Bell responded by driving the car forward and striking the officer. That’s when the officer told the other detectives to open fire, killing Bell and injuring the passengers. Witnesses say that the officer never identified himself and that Bell likely thought the plain-clothes officer was trying to car-jack him.


4. Dymond Milburn


A young 12-year-old girl, Dymond Milburn, was sent outside by her father to switch a circuit breaker when a van with three undercover police officers rolled up. The officers mistook her for a prostitute, yelling “You’re a prostitute! You’re coming with me!” Milburn tried to run while yelling for her dad, but one officer held a hand over her mouth while the other two beat her head, face, and throat. When her father came to the balcony after hearing his daughter’s screams and informed them that she was his daughter and only 12, one officer responded that he didn’t care and they continued. They took her to the station before she was allowed to get checked out at a hospital, and then three weeks later came to her school to arrest her for resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer.

5. Robert Davis


Robert Davis, a 64-year-old retired elementary school teacher from New Orleans, was arrested and brutally beaten by police on suspicion of public intoxication. On the night of October 9, 2005, just a little over a month after Hurricane Katrina, Davis returned to New Orleans to check on his family’s property. That night, he went to the French Quarter to buy cigarettes, where he encountered police and was subsequently beaten and punched in the head at least four times. It is illegal for police officers to hit a suspect in the head in New Orleans, but the police continued anyway. The four officers involved in the incident claimed that Davis was drunk and belligerent, and that he resisted arrest when police attempted to handcuff him. Thankfully, Davis survived the beating and stands firmly behind his claim that he was not drunk and had not had anything to drink for the last 25 years. What ensued on that night baffled him, and despite video evidence captured on that night to back up his claims, the officers involved were not convicted for assault.

Continue reading the rest at True Activist.  (Warning: graphic content.)

If you haven't already, be sure to like our Filming Cops Page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Please visit our sister site Smokers ONLY

Sign Up To Receive Your Free E-Book
‘Advanced Strategies On Filming Police’

About author

Filming Cops
Filming Cops 4753 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

You might also like