Police brutality is the exessive use of physical force and a crime commited by the police or a law enforcement officer of a country.

Cases of police brutalityEdit

Before 1990Edit

  • 22 September 1920: In reprisal for an ambush by the IRA, Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) officers killed 5 civilians and burnt 16 houses/shops in west County Clare, Ireland.
  • 21 November 1920: The Croke Park massacre in Dublin, Ireland. Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) officers opened-fire on civilians who were watching a Gaelic football match in Croke Park; 14 were killed and 60–70 wounded. The attack was believed to be revenge for an IRA assassination operation earlier in the day.
  • 24 March 1922: The McMahon murders in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Officers of the Ulster Special Constabulary (USC) broke into a house owned by an Irish Catholic family and shot all eight males inside. Six were killed. It is believed to have been a reprisal for the IRA's killing of two policemen the day before.
  • 1 April 1922: The Arnon Street killings in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Ten officers of the Ulster Special Constabulary (USC) broke into a number of Irish Catholic-owned homes and killed six Catholic civilians (including a child). This was believed to have been a reprisal for the IRA's killing of a policeman in the area.
  • 21 March 1960. South African police shot at a crowd of black anti-apartheid protesters, killing 69 and injuring over 180 in what became known as the Sharpeville massacre. Evidence showed that the police continued firing even when the crowd had turned to run, and the majority of those killed and wounded were shot in the back. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission later concluded that the police actions constituted "gross human rights violations in that excessive force was unnecessarily used to stop a gathering of unarmed people." (see Sharpeville massacre article for sourcing).
  • 17 October 1961. The French police attacked a large demonstration of unarmed and peaceful protesters of Algerian origin, killing between 70 and 200 (numbers are uncertain, partly because many were drowned after being thrown into the Seine with their hands tied), in the Paris massacre of 1961.
  • 19 April 1969 in Derry, Northern Ireland. During rioting between Irish nationalists and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), RUC officers broke into the home of Catholic civilian Samuel Devenny (42), who was not involved in the riots. The officers kicked Devenny and beat him ferociously with batons. His young daughter (who was recovering from surgery) and a family friend were beaten unconscious. His older daughter and son were also attacked. It is believed that the attack led to Devenny's death on 17 July 1969.[1]
  • 13 July 1969 in Dungiven, Northern Ireland. Catholic civilian Francis McCloskey (67) was beaten with batons by Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers during street disturbances and died of his injuries the following day. He is sometimes deemed to be the first death of "The Troubles".[2]
  • 14–15 August 1969: During the 1969 Northern Ireland riots, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) shot dead five Catholic civilians and opened-fire on crowds of Irish nationalist protesters.
  • 1967–74: the methods of the Greek military junta were documented in the docudrama Your Neighbor's Son. It focused on the brutalization of young Military Police recruits which turned them into torturers. Michalis Petrou, a conscript who became a notorious torturer, testified against his former colleagues.[3]
  • 4 May 1970: The Kent State shootings — also known as the 4 May massacre or the Kent State massacre – occurred at Kent State University in the U.S. city of Kent, Ohio, and involved the shooting of unarmed college students by the Ohio National Guard on Monday, 4 May 1970. The guardsmen fired 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others, one of whom suffered permanent paralysis.
  • 1977. Steve Biko is widely believed to have been killed by police as a result of anti-apartheid demonstrations in South Africa.[4]


[1][2]3 January 1998: Policemen from the North East Rand Dog Unit set their dogs on three Mozambican immigrants*7 September 1995: Dudley George, an Ojibwa protestor, was shot and killed by Ontario Provincial Police Sergeant Kenneth Deane near Ipperwash Provincial Park in Ontario in 1995 during the Ipperwash Crisis. Sergeant Deane was later convicted of criminal negligence causing death.[5]

  • 3 January 1998: Six policemen from the North East Rand Dog Unit set their dogs on three suspected illegal immigrants, allowing the animals to attack the three men as the officers shouted racial insults. The incident was caught on video and televised nationally by the South African Broadcasting Corporation on 7 November 2000, causing widespread outrage. All six policemen were ultimately sentenced to jail terms of between four and five years each.[6][7]


  • 9 May 2001: police fired tear gas and plastic bullets into crowds at the Accra Sports Stadium, Ghana, causing a stampede in which 127 people died. It was Africa's worst sporting disaster. An official inquiry blamed police over-reaction,[8] but a prosecution failed to establish a case.
  • 20–21 July 2001: Carlo Giuliani, protesting at the 27th G8 summit was shot dead by police in Genoa, Italy, but the officer was acquitted on the grounds that he had acted in self-defence.[9] 62 other protesters were hospitalized (including three comatose) after a brutal night-time raid on the Diaz school where they were bedding down. In a trial that concluded in 2010, twenty-five Italian police officers were convicted of grievous bodily harm, planting evidence and wrongful arrest.[10]
  • February 2005: Howard Morgan, a black off-duty police officer, was shot 28 times by four white officers in Chicago. He was accused of attempted murder after he survives.[11]
  • 25 September 2005: Federico Aldrovandi, an 18 years old Italian student, was killed after being beaten up during an arrest in Ferrara. The four officers involved in the incident, Monica Segatto, Luca Pollastri, Enzo Pontani and Paolo Forlani were found guilty of manslaughter due to excessive force and will face 6 months in prison, after the initial sentence of 3 years and 6 months was reduced due to the controversial pardon issued in 2006 by the Italian Parliament.
  • 7 September 2006: Eugene Ejike Obiora, a Nigerian-Norwegian student, was killed during an arrest where Obiora had behaved aggressively toward personnel at the social services office in Trondheim. Obiora died en route to a hospital after a police officer held him in a stranglehold. The case made headlines and three officers were accused of racism and excessive use of force, but they were cleared by police investigators and the chief prosecutor.
  • 6 December 2008: 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos was fatally shot by police officer Epaminondas Korkoneas in Athens, Greece. Demonstrations and riots erupted throughout Athens almost immediately after the shooting, sparking weeks of civil unrest and workplace and university occupations throughout Greece and beyond.[12]
  • 1 April 2009: policing at the 2009 G-20 London summit protests included the controversial technique of kettling. A bystander, Ian Tomlinson, died shortly after being pushed to the ground by a police officer. An inquest found that Tomlinson was unlawfully killed. An officer in the Metropolitan Police's Territorial Support Group was charged with manslaughter, but found not guilty.[13]


  • 22 January 2010: Yao Wei Wu was beaten by officers from Vancouver Police Department who knocked on the wrong door while investigating a report of a violent domestic dispute.[14] Speaking through a translator, Yao Wei Wu told CBC News that as soon as he opened the door the officers pulled him out of the house and beat him.
  • 20 July 2010: Jason Alan Kemp, 31, was shot at point-blank range and killed when he refused to allow officers to enter without a search warrant.[15] The state troopers were investigating a minor traffic accident when they kicked in the door and blinded Jason with pepper spray when he refused entry without a warrant.
  • 6 June 2011 22-year-old Martin Neshkovski was beaten to death by Igor Spasov, a member of the special police unit Tigers, in the center of Skopje, Republic of Macedonia during the celebration of the ruling party's VMRO-DPMNE election victory, supposedly because he wanted to climb on stage and congratulate the Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski personally. After an unsuccessful attempt by the Macedonian institutions to cover up the murder,[16] which was followed by two-day demonstrations in Skopje, Spasov admitted the murder. Protests were held daily throughout June and July, demanding greater control over special police unit members and political and moral responsibility.[17]
  • 9 July 2011: The United Nations human rights office expressed disappointment on the use of excessive force[18][19][20] by the police against peaceful protestors in the Bersih 2.0 rally, which was organised by the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) calling for electoral reform in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
  • 16 August 2012: The Marikana Massacre which occurred during the wildcat Marikana miners' strike was the single most lethal use of force by South African security forces against civilians since the Sharpeville massacre during the apartheid era.[21][22]

Pending investigationsEdit

The investigations into these cases have not been completed. Parties involved in each case may or may not be exonerated by the investigation.

See alsoEdit