CHICAGO — In decades past, police officers who shot suspects as they ran away were more likely to expect praise than criminal charges. And while the legal landscape and public opinion have shifted in recent years, it’s never a certainty that such shootings will result in officer indictments.
Prosecutors moved quickly to charge a white officer with criminal homicide Wednesday in last week’s death of an unarmed black teenager who was shot in the back while fleeing a traffic stop near Pittsburgh. In Georgia, another white police officer accused of fatally shooting a black man who was running away was fired and jailed.
In two other fatal police shootings — on Monday in Galveston, Texas, and on Saturday in Minneapolis — it remains to be seen whether charges will come. Those shootings also involved people who were running away.
A look at some of the history and legal principles behind such cases: