CHICAGO — There were nearly 300 more homicides in 2016 than in 2015, statistics released by the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office reveal.
In the city, 812 deaths were ruled as "homicides" — which medical examiners define as "when the death of a person comes at the hand of another person" — compared with just 528 the year before.
Earlier this week, the Chicago Police Department released crime statistics for 2016 that show that 762 people were murdered.
“The violence in 2016 was driven by emboldened offenders who acted without a fear of penalty from the criminal justice system,” Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said. “The challenge we face as a city is serious, and like other cities, it is significant. We will be adding to our Police Department, we are committed to partnering with residents, we will benefit from the investments being made by the Mayor, and if we come together and work together I know we can turn the tide in 2017.”
Murders differ from homicides because murders are subject to criminal prosecution.
Some of the homicides that don't show up in the Police Department's murder statistics are police-involved shooting deaths under investigation by the Independent Police Review Authority and expressway shootings under Illinois State Police jurisdiction. Others are pending "death investigations" by the Police Department.
Of the 812 homicides recorded by medical examiners, 725 were caused by at least one gunshot wound.
The office also released countywide statistics showing that 77.5 percent of Cook County's 915 homicide victims were black; 21.2 percent were white; and 15.6 percent were categorized as Latino by family. Nine in 10 homicide victims were male.
Opioid deaths during the first half of 2016 countywide were 617. The number of such deaths in all of 2015 was 737, suggesting the number will ultimately spike once all the data is available. The Medical Examiner's Office expects to release full data on drug-related deaths in 2016 later this year.
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