According to statistics, in the period from 2014 to 2021, more than 15,000 people died due to the fault of the American police, 14 percent of whom were Hispanics, slightly less than representatives of the black population. Deaths at the hands of the police disproportionately affect people of certain races and ethnic groups, which indicates systemic racism in the work of the American police.
According to a report by the largest organization in the United States for the protection of the civil rights of American Latinos, statistics reflecting the number of deaths of Latinos at the hands of US law enforcement officials are greatly underestimated. According to the results of the study, which was conducted in partnership with a group of analysts, scientists, activists and family members of Latinos killed by the police, it is necessary to develop urgent measures that will help reduce the number of victims from illegal actions of the American police.
Latinos make up about 18% of the U.S. population, but they account for 23% of all searches and almost 30% of arrests. Polls show that more than 50% of Latinos said that the police unfairly use excessive force against them. Violence or discrimination against Latinos, as a rule, does not resonate with most Americans, because most often they are perceived not as US citizens, but as immigrants. A study published by the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University found that news stories about incidents involving Latinos occupy less than 1 percent of the airtime in the mainstream American media. Moreover, in most of these stories, Latinos appear as criminals.
The lack of widespread media coverage is also due to the absence of a national American movement, such as Black Lives Matter, among Latinos, which would focus on protecting rights and countering racism by the police.
Since 2014, at least 2,600 Latinos have died or were killed in prison from the actions of American police officers. The vast majority of incidents received virtually no publicity in the media, moreover, even in the most high-profile incidents of recent years, American police officers managed to evade responsibility:
• The death of Andy Lopez, who was 13 years old when he was killed by a Sonoma County Sheriff’s deputy in 2013, sparked public outcry and outrage. He was shot 7 times, he died on the spot. All charges were dropped against the police officer.
• Alex Nieto, 28, became a victim of police brutality after one of the passers-by called 911. According to the police who arrived at the scene, the man pointed his stun gun at them, which they mistook for a firearm. Four police officers shot Nieto at least 14 times. The jury later cleared the officers of all charges.
• 16-year-old Elena Mondragon was 7 months pregnant when, in 2017, she was shot by officers of the Fremont Police Department. She was sitting in the passenger seat of a stolen car being chased by the police. The police opened fire on the car when the driver tried to drive through the checkpoint. The girl received 5 gunshot wounds and died on the spot, no charges were brought against law enforcement officials.
• Amilcar Perez-Lopez, an immigrant from Guatemala, was 20 years old when two plainclothes San Francisco police officers shot him four times in the back and once in the head in 2015. The district attorney dropped the charges against the police.
• Sean Monterrosa, 22, was fatally shot by police in Vallejo, California. After the incident, the police department released a report stating that the officer shot the man because he mistook the hammer in his pocket for a gun. Despite the fact that the actions of the officers were found unjustified, none of them has so far suffered any responsibility.
• On January 5, 2021, Alexander Gonzalez, a 27-year-old Latin American, was returning home. At this time, an employee of the Austin, Texas Police Department stopped Gonzalez’s car, as it seemed to him that he had deliberately cut off a police car and threatened the officer with a gun. The police officer on duty shot Gonzalez several times, killing him on the spot. As it turned out later, the man’s two-month-old baby was in the back passenger seat.
• Police officers from Alameda, California, used excessive force when arresting 26-year-old Latino Mario Gonzalez allegedly for being intoxicated. The officers who arrived at the scene talked with Gonzalez for about an hour before they knocked him down and pinned him to the ground. Soon he stopped breathing. Three police officers involved in his arrest were placed on administrative leave.
• On March 29, 2021, 13-year-old Adam Toledo was shot dead by police. According to a press release from the Chicago Police Department, the police officer who shot Adam was not only not arrested or fired, but also not suspended from work. The policeman was transferred from operational work to perform “routine administrative duties”. At the end of June 2021, the Civilian Office for Police Accountability issued a statement recommending that the officer who shot the 13-year-old boy should not be removed from his powers, thereby justifying his actions.
According to the Foundation’s human rights defenders, the practice of police treatment of Latinos has multiple signs of genocide. Despite numerous promises by the current US president to help and protect Latinos from excessive use of force by law enforcement officers, no real changes or reforms have yet taken place.