Deadly New York police shootings drop to record low

In this March 16, 2013 file photo heavily armed New York Police Department (NYPD) officers look on as parade participants make their way up 5th Avenue during the 252th New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade. -- PHOTO: AFP 
In this March 16, 2013 file photo heavily armed New York Police Department (NYPD) officers look on as parade participants make their way up 5th Avenue during the 252th New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade. -- PHOTO: AFP 

NEW YORK (AFP) - The United States has been rocked by a series of protests over deadly police tactics, but New York's force shot dead fewer people last year than in any since records began.

The New York Police Department firearms discharge report found that in 2013 officers fired 248 shots in 81 shooting incidents - the lowest since the department began keeping count in 1971.

Police officers shot dead eight people in the city in 2013, matching the historic low recorded in 2010.

Fatalities were down by half from the 16 people shot dead by officers in 2012.

The total number of people shot and wounded by officers in 2013 was up, however, to 17 from 13 in 2012.

The United States has the highest per capita rate of gun ownership in the world and the FBI estimates that American police officers killed more than 461 people last year.

The figure is far higher than in any similar developed economy, but has fallen steeply in major cities in recent decades.

In 1971, 12 New York officers were shot and killed, while police shot and killed 93 people.

Last year, no officer was killed by gunfire and police shot and killed six African Americans and two Hispanics.

"The figures are a testament to police officers' restraint, diligence, and honorable performance of duty," said the report.

"But they also show that, over the past four decades, attacks on both police and citizens have steadily declined."

In July, African American father-of-six Eric Garner died after being held in a police chokehold.

A coroner declared the death a homicide, but a grand jury opted not to charge the officer involved.

Protests broke out, also fuelled by anger at the August killing of unarmed black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Then last week, prosecutor Ken Thompson announced that another grand jury would decide whether to charge an officer who shot dead unarmed 28-year-old Akai Gurley in Brooklyn last month.