Fatal police shootings are up in 2015, now approaching 400 nationwide. But those are the statistics according to official reports. A new estimate suggests that the real figure should be about twice what the FBI is reporting.
Why? It’s all because “these shootings are grossly underreported,” according to Jim Bueermann, a former police chief and president of the Washington-based Police Foundation.
The Police Foundation is a nonprofit organization that describes itself as dedicated to improving law enforcement.
“We are never going to reduce the number of police shootings if we don’t begin to accurately track this information,” Bueermann says.
The Washington Post joined in this debate recently, by compiling a database of every fatal shooting by police in 2015. They also put together a charge of every officer fatally shot in the line of duty.
They are excluding, in their reports, “killings by other means, such as stun guns and deaths in police custody.”
Take a look at some of their findings in the charts below…
These figures and charts were compiled using interviews, police reports, local news accounts as well as other relevant sources.
Some of the more controversial data from the Post’s findings are as follows:
- About half the victims were white, half minority. But the demographics shifted sharply among the unarmed victims, two-thirds of whom were black or Hispanic. Overall, blacks were killed at three times the rate of whites or other minorities when adjusting by the population of the census tracts where the shootings occurred.
- The vast majority of victims — more than 80 percent — were armed with potentially lethal objects, primarily guns, but also knives, machetes, revving vehicles and, in one case, a nail gun.
- Forty-nine people had no weapon, while the guns wielded by 13 others turned out to be toys. In all, 16 percent were either carrying a toy or were unarmed.
- The dead ranged in age from 16 to 83. Eight were children younger than 18, including Jessie Hernandez, 17, who was shot three times by Denver police officers as she and a carload of friends allegedly tried to run them down.
The Post also found that “about half of the time, police were responding to people seeking help with domestic disturbances and other complex social situations,” or “a homeless person behaving erratically,” or even “a son trying to kill himself.”
So far, The Post’s analysis found that race was not the only factor: socio-economic status was as well. There were nearly as many Caucasians killed by police as African Americans, but there is a much lower number of African Americans in the population, making this per capita rate significantly higher. As well, of those Caucasians killed, almost none were affluent in class.
The daily death toll for 2015 is thus far at around 2.6.
(Article by Jackson Marciana and M. David; charts and h/t via Washington Post)