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Of the deaths classified as law enforcement homicides, 2,876 deaths occurred of which 1,643 or 57.1% of the people who died were "people of color".
In April 1992, hours after the four police officers involved were acquitted at trial, the Los Angeles riots of 1992 commenced, causing 53 deaths, 2,383 injuries, more than 7,000 fires, damage to 3,100 businesses, and nearly billion in financial losses.
After facing federal trial, two of the four officers were convicted and received 32 months prison sentence.
What the average citizen thinks of when he hears the term, however, is something midway between these two occurrences, something more akin to what the police profession knows as "alley court"—the wanton vicious beating of a person in custody, usually while handcuffed, and usually taking place somewhere between the scene of the arrest and the station house.
In March 1991, members of the Los Angeles Police Department harshly beat an African American suspect, Rodney King, while a white civilian videotaped the incident, leading to extensive media coverage and criminal charges against several of the officers involved.
In addition, there is a perception that victims of police brutality often belonging to relatively powerless groups, such as minorities, the disabled, the young, and the poor.
When used in print or as the battle cry in a black power rally, police brutality can by implication cover a number of practices, from calling a citizen by his or her first name to a death by a policeman's bullet.
Police brutality is one of several forms of police misconduct, which include: false arrest; intimidation; racial profiling; political repression; surveillance abuse; sexual abuse; and police corruption.
Widespread police brutality exists in many countries, even those that prosecute it.