By JAMES GELMAN, age 13

Citizen activists gather in Ferguson, MO to protest unpunished, fatal police violence against black lives. Aug. 14, 2014. PHOTO: Jamelle Bouie/Flickr
Citizen activists gather in Ferguson, MO to protest unpunished, fatal police violence against black lives. Aug. 14, 2014. PHOTO: Jamelle Bouie/Flickr

On July 10, 2015, Texas state trooper Brian Encinia pulled over Sandra Bland for failing to signal when changing lanes. Within minutes, Encinia asked her to step out of the car, bashed her head against the ground and arrested her. Three days later, she was discovered dead inside her cell. No authorities will be indicted for murder.

While mainstream awareness of police brutality toward black men, women and children has grown in the last few years due to citizen activism, not much has changed in terms of legal justice.

In November, Minneapolis police fatally shot 24-year-old Jamar Clark while he was already handcuffed and lying on the floor, according to witnesses. The two officers, Dustin Schwarze and Mark Ringgenberg, returned to police desk duty in January.

Meanwhile, a grand jury decided not to indict Cleveland officer Timothy Loehmann, who in November 2014 shot and killed Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old who was playing with a toy gun in a park. Instead, the city has billed Rice’s family $500 for his ambulance ride to the hospital.

Jason Van Dyke, the Chicago officer who shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times in 13 seconds on Oct. 20, 2014, is being tried on six counts of first-degree murder.

“Official discipline of bad cops is so rare as to be almost nonexistent, according to some recent studies,” writes political columnist Rich Miller. “It’s a problem that screams for a remedy from above.”

However, on January 6, Brian Encinia, the state trooper who arrested Sandra Bland, was charged with perjury. On March 2, Encinia was fired.

In February, Peter Liang, the cop who fatally shot unarmed 28-year-old father Akai Gurley in the stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project, was found guilty of manslaughter and official misconduct. Liang is the first NYPD officer to be convicted of a police-related killing in 10 years. “We’re not rejoicing,” Gurley’s aunt Hertencia Petersen told the Daily News. “But it’s about being accountable. It’s about a girl who will never know her father.”

Glossary of Terms:
Perjury: Lying under oath in court.
Indict: To formally charge someone with a serious crime.