Through the series, I will look into 19 shootings of unarmed people that have occurred since last September, when a new law went into effect that required law enforcement to report shootings to the state.
For the first year of the law's implementation, about 20 percent of the 159 individuals shot by officers were unarmed. About half of those incidents were fatal.
The shootings span the Lone Star State and each have their own set of circumstances that led an officer to pull the trigger. Through these stories, I aim to help readers better understand why unarmed people are sometimes shot and how these shootings affect those involved. I'll go beyond the breaking news and initial headlines to gain perspectives that I think we badly need at a time when the country seems so divided.
Eva Ruth did an interview today about the project with Texas Public Radio, and has promised to grace us with occasional Reporter's Notebook posts on Grits as the series develops.Look for my first story - an introduction to the project - in Texas newspapers this weekend, and tune into the Texas Standard on Friday to hear an interview with yours truly. Our social media account information is below, and please subscribe via the bottom of the project's website, www.pointofimpacttx.
com, so you don't miss a post.
Her first item, a data-and-open-records based overview of police shootings in Texas, has already been posted online and I'm informed it will be published in Sunday's paper. According to that overview, "Texas police reported shooting 159 people in the first year that the state tracked such cases under a ground-breaking new law. Austin and Fort Worth each saw five of those shootings — compared to eight apiece in San Antonio and Dallas and 31 in Houston." In the first year data was collected, Texas "officers have reported killing 71 people and injuring 88."
Coupled with Amanda Woog's data project and the Texas Tribune's Unholstered series, we're starting to get a more detailed and nuanced understanding of the dynamics surrounding these hot-button episodes which have driven so much of the national conversation on criminal justice in the last two years.
Congratulations, Eva Ruth, this is really important work and a cool project. I can't wait to see what all you produce.