Friday, July 8, 2016

Killed By Police in America

With America's police using deadly force to subdue their targets on what seems to be a regular basis, particularly when one looks at mainstream media reports, I wanted to examine statistics regarding police killings of civilians.  While the U.S. government and its agencies have no comprehensive record of civilian deaths at the hands of those that work to protect us, there are three non-governmental sources for such data:

1.) The Counted - a Guardian (U.K.) newspaper project

According to The Counted, there have already been 16 people killed by police in the United States in the month of July 2016 alone with five victims on July 4th.

Here is a graph showing the number of Americans killed by police over the eighteen month period since January 2015:

Since January 1, 2015, United States police have been responsible (justified or not) for the killings of 1,691 civilians, an average of 94 deaths per month.  So far in 2016, Los Angeles leads all U.S. cities with ten civilian deaths at the hands of the city's police department followed by Phoenix, Albuquerque and Houston at seven deaths each.  Interestingly, if you look at the per capita data for 2015, Washington, D.C. has the highest per capita rate of police killings followed by Wyoming and New Mexico.  Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York have the lowest per capita rates of police killings.

Here is a table from Fatal Encounters that shows the number of civilian deaths by year from 2000 to 2015  for each of the states:

Here is a map showing the same data with the darker red states having a higher death count:

According to the Fatal Encounters database, since 2000, 2,979 decedents were white, 2,170 were black, 1,386 were Hispanic, 128 were Asian and 116 were Native American and that race was unspecified in 4,594 cases.

Here are some of the victims and the circumstances surrounding their deaths at the hands of the police according to The Counted database:

An analysis of the FBI's Supplementary Homicide Report data (which, by the way, is incomplete) on fatal police shooting by ProPublica shows that, between the years of 2010 to 2012, there were 1217 deadly police shootings.  ProPublica's analysis shows that blacks between the ages of 15 to 19 were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million compared to 1.47 per million for white males of the same age.  In total, over the years from 1980 to 2012, American police have killed at least 12,000 civilians with most of those being killed by using a handgun along with 714 who died at the wrong end of a police-held shotgun.  Note the "at least" in the previous sentence.  There are 18,000 police departments in the United States; according to ProPublica, vast numbers of departments don't file police shooting reports of any kind with Florida's departments not reporting since 1997 and New York City's departments not reporting since 2007.

In sharp contrast, according to FBI statistics for 2015, 41 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty throughout the United States, down from 51 in 2014.

It is apparent that there is a substantial and perhaps growing divide between police and the community that they work in.  Intergroup contact theory suggests that community policing which builds ties between local police departments and the communities in which they work can break down stereotypes and lead to a more palatable and positive interaction between both groups.  Respect is a two-way street and when both groups develop respect for each other through greater intergroup contact, there is a much lower chance of violence.


  1. After Dallas and what is going on in the past few days. My guess is things will get worse. The implosion of the US will slowly continue. If Trump is elected expect race relations to get even worse. If Hillary is elected expect more war and death over seas maybe even a war with Russia or China. Neither will do anything to rein in the police. The police are the most visible part of the power structure that controls the people.

  2. These are very frightening statistics. I tend to agree with Anonymous above.

  3. How about at least also commenting on Police Deaths in the line of duty.

  4. The President can moan all he wants about police being too heavy handed towards blacks and minorities, but he shares a great deal of the responsibility for their misconduct. Over the years while Obama has been in office the unrelentless trend to add a military component to police forces across the nation has continued to ramp up. Many people see this as the governments way to extend control and power over the masses in case of a civil uprising in the future.

    More and more we see those paid with our tax dollars driving aggressive macho vehicles and strutting around in black uniforms with a swagger of intimidation. It seems that the mission of police in America has morphed from "serve and protect" to "fighting a war on crime" to one mixing in elements of maintaining order and searching for a terrorist under every bed. More on this troubling subject in the article below.

    1. I couldn't disagree more. The "unrelentless trend to add a military component to police forces" started under W as a reaction to 9/11. Obama had nothing to do with that. Under the Obama Administration police have be forced to return many of the heavy tank like vehicles they got from the Bush Administration. So please stop blaming the Obama Administration for this problem.

      I do agree ever since the police have been militarized that their behavior has become far more aggressive. This MUST stop. This isn't nazi Germany, yet. There is no good reason for police to be armed the way they are because unlike the military, there are no protocols for the use of this equipment. They just pull it out whenever they want for any reason they want.

    2. It started under Bush But Obama didn't stop it. He made it a little more bureaucratic, with more paperwork. But the militarization didn't stop, maybe slowed down. But most departments already had their goodies. My local police have Humvees with flat tires and rust forming on them because they had the good sense to realize that even though they were given them for free they really had no use for them and they just sat and probably don't run at this point. Check this out scary stuff don't know if he is correct but scary.

    3. I'm replying to myself but I went passed where the local PD has the Humvees and I shit you not they are fixing it the tires aren't flat its on blocks and it looks like what ever issues formed while it was just sitting there for the past 5 or 6 years are getting fixed. Hmm is something coming that they are going to be using that gas guzzler for?