Tulsa police officers have been involved in 11 fatal shootings in the past 12 months, including three this month and four overall in 2017.
A fifth fatal encounter this year occurred in March when an officer intentionally ran over a shooting suspect. The woman was on the department’s wanted list for a string of gun-related crimes and had exchanged gunshots with police before being fatally struck by a cruiser.
A nonfatal police shooting in April involved a man reportedly fleeing an officer on foot and then turning around with a gun in his hand, prompting shots from an officer. The person — recognized by the officer as a suspect in a shooting — was critically wounded.
Tulsa police fatally shot seven people in 2016, zero in 2015, five in 2014, one in 2013 and four in 2012, according to a Tulsa World database.
The first fatal police shooting in 2016 didn’t occur until June 15, so there have been 11 fatal shootings involving Tulsa police officers in about 12 months. The most recent was Saturday.
Prior to mid-June 2016, Tulsa police hadn’t fatally shot anyone since Oct. 8, 2014 — a stretch of about 20 months.
Chief Chuck Jordan told the Tulsa World on Wednesday that the Police Department isn’t doing anything different. He noted the zero fatal police shootings in 2015, saying officers are policing the same way and reacting to what people are doing — threats to officers and citizens.
“We are victims of the violence in our society, as well, just like everybody is,” Jordan said. “We’ve talked about the rising homicide rates; we’ve talked about the increase in aggravated assaults — those types of things.
“We see it, too.”
He said that “the bottom line is: When somebody pulls a gun or knife or threatens another citizen with a gun or knife, we don’t have a whole lot of options at that point.”
Tulsa has recorded 44 homicides to date in 2017 and is on pace to break the city’s record of 82 homicides last year, according to the Tulsa World’s homicide database. At the midpoint of 2016, Tulsa had tallied 34 homicides. There were 58 homicides in 2015 and 54 in 2014.
Aggravated assaults have increased in the past three years, with 1,938 in 2014, 2,357 in 2015 and 2,745 in 2016, according to Police Department crime statistics. Aggravated assaults are on a similar pace through April of this year as compared with 2016. The 2,745 in 2016 are the most since at least 2011.
Jordan said some of the fatal police shootings were drug- or substance-related, some involved mental illness and others were simply related to crime.