ATLANTA — The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Georgia is on pace to double the number of fatal police shootings in 2018.
The newspaper reported Tuesday that a review of records showed that 30 people were shot and killed by police in 2017. Georgia has nearly matched that total in 2018 and it's only July.
"It's almost like a perfect storm coming together," Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan told the newspaper. "There's very much anti-police sentiment in some communities. You combine that with drugs and mental health."
Shukri Ali Said was one of the 29 people killed by law enforcement this year in Georgia. Her history of mental illness and erratic behavior led her family to call 911 for help in April. When Johns Creek police officers arrived, that said the 36-year-old woman refused to put down her knife. The officers tried negotiating with Said and used a Taser before shooting her. She died from her injuries.
Edward Ahmed Mitchell, director of the Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said when the woman's family called 911 they expected an ambulance to come take her to the hospital.
"They were just trying to help her. They expected a completely different outcome," Mitchell said. "When you call to help someone, you don't expect them to die."
"It raises the question why four or five officers could not figure out a way to subdue her without using violence," he said.
The shooting remains under review by GBI.
Non-fatal shootings could also be on the rise. The newspaper reported that there have been 50 shootings involving police officers so far in 2018 compared to 88 for all of last year.
Lance Lorusso, who serves as legal counsel for the Georgia Fraternal Order of Police and Keenan said officers were justified in using force in most cases. Lorusso told the newspaper that a rise in violence against police officers has fueled the increase in officer-involved shootings, along with a segment of the population that believes they should not have to comply with police.
"There's going to be controversial cases, and there's going to be cases where the officers have used poor judgment and their actions are not justified," Keenan said. "But that is a small minority of the cases," Keenan said.
Kennan told the newspaper that reviewing the cases is a priority for the agency.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation last month charged Kingsland Police Officer Zechariah Presley with voluntary manslaughter for killing a man during a pursuit. Investigators made the decision to charge him after reviewing footage from his body camera and other evidence in the death of Anthony Green in the small south Georgia town of Kingsland.