Every year, thousands of people die from gun homicides in the United States. A handful of these incidents stir up public controversy; some cases are so volatile they cause protests, incite riots, or even lead to more killings.
This list shows the eight most controversial shootings in the U.S within the last ten years:
1.) Howard Morgan Case: Illinois, 2005
Retired police officer Howard Morgan was pulled over by Chicago police while driving down a one-way street. The police officers claimed that when Morgan was pulled over he whipped out a gun and began firing, and then the officers shot back in self-defense, firing a total of 28 bullets.
Amazingly, Morgan managed to survive and tell his side of the story, where he stated that when he was pulled over the officers spotted his gun in the car and began to open fire. Morgan was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 40 years in prison.
2.) Sean Bell Case: New York, 2006
Sean Bell was shot and killed by New York City police in Queens after his bachelor party in 2006. Undercover police offers were at a club where they were investigating a prostitution ring, when Bell and his friends found themselves in an altercation.
An undercover officer heard one of Bell's friends say that he was going to get his gun. The officer said he then confronted Bell and friends, claiming to have shown his badge, but Bell's friends say otherwise. After Bell and two friends drove off in their vehicle, they hit an unmarked police minivan where both undercover officers and officers in uniform fired at the car over 50 times, killing Bell and injuring his two friends.
Three of the five detectives involved in the shooting went to trial and faced charges varying from manslaughter to reckless endangerment, where they were all found not guilty.
3.) Joe Horn Case: Texas, 2007
61-year-old Joe Horn spotted two burglars breaking into his next door neighbor's house in Pasadena, Texas. Horn called the police where he told the 911 operator that he had a shotgun and was going to shoot the criminals.
After Horn was advised not to do so and to wait for police to arrive, Horn told the 911 dispatcher that he had the right to use deadly force under the Texas Penal Code 9.41, 9.42 and 9.43 if the burglars came onto his property - which they soon did. Horn fired three times at the robbers, who were later found to be illegal immigrants from Columbia, killing both of them. This case sparked a nationwide debate over illegal immigration and how far one can go to protect their property with lethal force.
Horn faced a grand jury but was never indicted of anything.
4.) James Davies Case: Colorado, 2008
Police officer James Davies reported to a crime scene in Lakewood, Denver, where he was shot and killed by police officer Devaney Braley. Braley claimed that he thought Davies was the suspect they were searching for. Braley said he gave Davies a command to identify himself and heard no response, which is when he then shot. There is much controversy over this case because Braley had previously been accused of shooting another man on accident.
Braley had to go to court for Davies' murder but was found not guilty on the grounds that Braley's acts were in self-defense and therefore justifiable.
5.) Oscar Grant III Case: California, 2009
BART police officer fatally shot unarmed Oscar Grant III at a train station in Oakland. In the early morning hours of New Year's Day in 2009, police was called to the Fruitvale BART Station in Oakland with reports of a fight breaking out. BART police detained Grant, who was pinned face down by officer Johannes Mehserle for allegedly resisting arrest.
Officer Mehserle claimed that he thought he was pulling out his taser gun, when it was actually his real gun, and shot Grant in the back. The killing was caught on camera, where Mehserle is seen shooting Grant in the back while in handcuffs.
Mehserle was found not guilty of both second degree murder and voluntary manslaughter charges, but he was found guilty of inventory manslaughter where he served one year in prison.
6.) Trayvon Martin Case: Florida, 2012
28-year-old neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman shot and killed unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, in 2012. Zimmerman claimed that there was a physical altercation between the two, where he fired at Martin in an act of self-defense. Police did not arrest Zimmerman after the shooting due to Florida's Stand Your Ground statue.
After widespread and intense media coverage, Zimmerman was charged with murder 6 weeks after the shooting occurred. Zimmerman was later acquitted of all charges.
7.) Kendrec McDade Case: California, 2012
While reporting to a burglary call from a homeowner in Los Angeles in 2012, police officers shot and killed unarmed 19-year-old Kendrec McDade. Oscar Carrillo, the man who reported the burglary, was later found guilty of making a false report.
In 2014, the city of Pasadena settled a compensation claim for McDade's mother for the loss of her son. It was brought up in court that when McDade was shot, he was still breathing, but the police handcuffed him and left him on the street for a period of time before dispatching any sort of medical aid.
8.) Michael Brown Jr. Case: Missouri, 2014
In the suburbs of St. Louis in Ferguson, Missouri, unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown Jr. was shot and killed after being shot at least six times by Ferguson Country police officer Darren Wilson.
According to witnesses and police reports, Wilson ordered Brown and friend Dorian Johnson to move off the street, which later led to an altercation between Brown and Wilson, where Wilson fatally shot Brown. There is much speculation to whether Brown was standing with his hands up when Wilson fired or if he was aggressively moving towards the officer, and the case incited riots in Ferguson and across the country.
Witness video taken at the scene of the crime seems to corroborate the police's version of the story, while newly released alleged audio of the shooting reported by CNN shows two separate gunshot bursts: six shots followed by four (or five) shots.
A grand jury is yet to make a decision about whether or not the officer involved will be charged in this case.