LAPD’s version of protests: cops as victims

Official data reports 134 instances of assault with a deadly weapon against officers

Police clash with protesters los angeles


There were police clubbing protesters with batons, firing hard foam rounds into crowds, and even ramming a patrol car into people. 


But little of that wound up in the official data. Instead, the Los Angeles Police Department’s record of the protests that sprang up across the city from May 29-31 include 252 instances of assaults with a deadly weapon –– 134 of them listed police officers as the victim. 


Four weeks after the protests, data for the weekend of May 29-31 is still not all in. (On June 15, Crosstown reported on preliminary LAPD data from the protests.) Official arrest records for that weekend include only a fraction of the 1,600 people that LAPD Chief Michel Moore said were detained. But there is one point of data that seems robust: assault with deadly weapons on police officers.


The 134 reports of officers being assaulted make it the most intense period of violence against the police since the LAPD began making its data publicly available more than a decade ago. By comparison, in all of 2019, there were only 140 instances of an officer being assaulted with a deadly weapon. 

Chart showing number of assaults with a deadly weapon against police officers

Graphics by JD LeRoy


The department has come under scrutiny for its response to the protests, in which officers donned full combat gear, deployed tear gas and tased protesters. In a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles that was amended on June 21, Black Lives Matter LA alleged that police handcuffed peaceful protesters for hours, and in some cases deprived them of food, water and bathroom facilities. A USC student also sued the LAPD, alleging that after being arrested she was abandoned in the dark for several hours. She was originally cited for violating curfew.


On Monday, the LAPD posted images and footage of people destroying property, and asked the public for help in identifying looters and vandals during the protests, saying these actions disrupted peaceful protests.


Meanwhile, major gaps remain in the LAPD arrest records. Though Moore, the LAPD chief, estimated that some 1,600 were detained during that period in connection with the protests, so far, publicly available data only shows 370 arrests across the entire city from May 29-31. In the days following that weekend, from June 1-4, only 123 arrest records cited curfew violations. There were 97 arrests for looting from June 1-6.


How we did it: We examined publicly available LAPD arrest data from May 29-31, as well as publicly available LAPD crime data from May 29-June 6. Learn more about our data here.


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