Police deaths caused by firearms spiked in 2014, according to a report released Tuesday.
Of the 126 police officers killed in the line of duty this year, guns were used in 50 of those incidents, a 56% spike from 2013 when 32 officers were killed with guns, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a nonprofit group that tracks police deaths. Traffic incidents were the second leading cause of officer deaths, killing 49 officers in automobile and motorcycle crashes, or in incidents where the officer was struck outsider their vehicle.
The group’s report comes on the heels of a high profile, execution-style killing of NYPD Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos on Dec. 20. The shootings have fueled tensions between New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city’s police force. Many officers turned their backs on the mayor at Ramos’s funeral last Saturday, and some officers booed de Blasio during an NYPD graduation ceremony Monday. NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton called the officers’ snub of de Blasio at the funeral “very inappropriate.”
Several high-profile deaths of black men at the hands of white officers have dominated the headlines in recent months, including the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York. According to the FBI, there were 461 justifiable homicides by law enforcement officials in 2013, the highest number in 20 years, though only a fraction of local police forces actually report the number of deaths at the hands of their officers.
Grand juries hearing evidence in the deaths of Brown and Garner decided not to indict the police officers involved in the cases, setting off new rounds of protests. Two NYPD cops were injured by protesters earlier this month during a large, mostly peaceful demonstration against police violence. De Blasio and others called for a break in protests after officers Liu and Ramos were killed by a suspect apparently motivated by anti-police views.
Advocates pushed back: “There’s no pause button on grief, there’s no pause button on sorrow, there’s no pause button in healing,” one New York protester, Michael Skolnik, told msnbc.