56 Officers in 22 states Feloniously Killed in 2010

The annual Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted report was released yesterday by thew FBI and its contents are very telling.

Some of the findings included:

A 31-year-old corporal with the Taylor Police Department was shot and killed during a burglary in progress around 5:45 a.m. on July 23.  The corporal, who had 6½ years of law enforcement experience, and his partner responded to a reported break-in at an apartment.  When they arrived at the scene, the officers observed a screen that had been removed from a window of the apartment and a man leaning against a mini-van in a parking lot near the apartment.  The corporal exited the passenger side of the patrol car, and the man began walking towards the patrol car.  The man, who was carrying a small bag, told the corporal that he and his wife had an argument and she had thrown him out of the apartment.  The corporal stayed with the man in the parking lot as his partner walked toward the apartment.  The partner heard gunshots behind him.  He turned and saw the man holding a .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun and shooting the corporal.  The partner shot and wounded the man.  The corporal, who was wearing a protective vest, was injured in his stomach and suffered a fatal wound to the front of his head.  The 36-year-old suspect, who had a prior criminal record that included violent crime (murder) and drug and weapons violations, was arrested and charged with Murder.

A patrol officer and a sergeant with the West Memphis Police Department were ambushed and killed during a traffic stop on May 20 just after 11:30 a.m.  The 38-year-old patrol officer was conducting a traffic stop and was speaking to the driver of the stopped vehicle by the front passenger side of his patrol car when the 39-year-old sergeant arrived as backup.  Shortly after the sergeant arrived, the driver’s 16-year-old son exited the vehicle and began firing a 7.62×39 mm semiautomatic rifle.  Both veteran officers received multiple gunshot wounds.  The sergeant, with more than 6 years of law enforcement experience, was fatally struck in the front of his head, and the patrol officer, with more than 8 years of law enforcement experience, was fatally shot in the front upper torso/chest when the bullet penetrated his protective vest.  The suspects fled in their vehicle, which was found an hour and a half later approximately 1 mile from the scene in a store parking lot.  When responding officers arrived, both suspects began firing at them.  During the ensuing gunfight, two veteran officers from the Crittenden County Sheriff’s Department were shot; both sustained serious injuries.  After exiting his police vehicle, the 68-year-old chief of enforcement, with more than 42 years of law enforcement experience, was hit in the front lower torso/stomach.  The 73-year-old sheriff, with more than 44 years of law enforcement experience, was hit in the arms/hands while still in the passenger seat of the vehicle.  Other officers on the scene engaged the suspects, and both the 16-year-old suspect and the 45-year-old suspect, who had a prior criminal record including weapons violations, were justifiably killed.

A police officer with the Phoenix Police Department was shot and killed while investigating a suspicious circumstance on May 26.  About an hour prior to the incident, officers observed a vehicle being driven at a high rate of speed and advised dispatch of the situation.  Just after 1:30 a.m., a 911 call came in that a male was observed covering up a car that he had parked in a carport at a vacant house.  The 29-year-old officer, who had 4 years of law enforcement experience, and his partner responded to the call in a marked police vehicle.  The officers exited their cruiser and approached the vehicle in question from opposite directions.  The partner began searching the backyard, but then heard gunshots.  He ran back toward the vehicle and found the victim officer lying on the ground in front of a nearby residence.  The victim officer had gunshot wounds from a .223-caliber semiautomatic rifle to his front below the waist and fatally to his front lower torso/stomach below his protective vest.  He was transported in a police vehicle to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead hours later.  The 30-year-old suspect, who had an extensive prior criminal record that included police assault and drug and weapons violations, was arrested and charged with First-Degree Murder, First-Degree Burglary, Misconduct Involving Weapon, and Disorderly Conduct.

According to the FBI press release,

Officer Profiles: Among the officers who were feloniously killed, the average age was 38 years. The victim officers had served in law enforcement for an average of 10 years at the time of the fatal incidents. Fifty-four of the victim officers were male, and two were female. Forty-eight of the officers were white, seven were black, and one was Asian/Pacific Islander.

Circumstances: Of the 56 officers feloniously killed, 15 were ambushed; 14 of the slain officers were involved in arrest situations; eight were investigating suspicious persons/circumstances; seven were performing traffic stops/pursuits; six were answering disturbance calls; three were involved in tactical situations (e.g., high-risk entry); two were conducting investigative activity such as surveillance, searches, or interviews; and one officer was killed while transporting or maintaining custody of prisoners.

Weapons: Offenders used firearms to kill 55 of the 56 victim officers. Of these 55 officers, 38 were slain with handguns, 15 with rifles, and two with shotguns. One officer was killed with a vehicle used as a weapon.

Regions: Twenty-two of the felonious deaths occurred in the South, 18 in the West, 10 in the Midwest, and three in the Northeast. Three of the deaths took place in Puerto Rico.

Suspects: Law enforcement agencies identified 69 alleged assailants in connection with the 56 felonious line-of-duty deaths. Fifty-seven of the assailants had prior criminal arrests, and 19 of the offenders were under judicial supervision at the time of the felonious incidents.

Accidental Deaths

Of the 72 law enforcement officers killed in accidents while performing their duties in 2010, the majority of them (45 officers) were killed in automobile accidents. The number of accidental line-of-duty deaths was up 24 from the 2009 total (48 officers).


In 2010, 53,469 law enforcement officers were assaulted while performing their duties. Of the officers assaulted, 26.1 percent suffered injuries. The largest percentage of victim officers (33.0 percent) were assaulted while responding to disturbance calls (family quarrels, bar fights, etc.). Assailants used personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.) in 81.8 percent of the incidents, firearms in 3.4 percent of incidents, and knives or other cutting instruments in 1.7 percent of the incidents. Other types of dangerous weapons were used in 13.1 percent of assaults.

I strongly recommend reading the entire document, the lessons it provides are invaluable. Stay safe.

Attorney Ronald A. Sellon

About Attorney Ronald A. Sellon

Ronald A. Sellon is a licensed Attorney in the state of Massachusetts and U.S. District Court, Massachusetts as well as a Sergeant with a Municipal Police Department and U.S. military Veteran. Additionally, he has taught Criminal Procedure at the Massachusetts State Police Academy in New Braintree and has written a text on Criminal Procedure for police field training officer programs. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, was a 2008 recipient of the Massachusetts Coalition of Police (Mass C.O.P.) Presidents award and holds a Bachelors Degree in Law Enforcement, a Masters Degree in Criminal Justice Administration, and a Juris Doctor Law Degree. Questions related to content material may be directed to RSellon@PoliceLegalPromotions.com
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