Local News

Graphs and data: Officer involved shootings

Posted December 12, 2016
Updated December 21, 2016

1. American police shoot and kill far more people than their peers in other countries.

American police shoot and kill far more people than their peers in other countries.

2. Black people are more likely to be shot by police than their white peers.

Black teens were 21 times as likely as white teens to be shot and killed by police between 2010 and 2012.

Black people are more likely to be shot by police than their white peers.

According to a study by ProPublica, young black males in recent years were at a far greater risk of being shot dead by police than their white peers. Federal data shows that in the 1,217 deadly officer-involved shootings from 2010 to 2012, black males ages 15 to 19 were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million. White males in that age range were killed at a rate of 1.47 per million.

So far in 2016, there have been 217 documented killings of African-Americans by police officers in the United States, which is grossly disproportionate to police killings of any other race.

According to the Guardian, racial minorities made up about 37.4 percent of the general population in the U.S. and 46.6 percent of armed and unarmed victims, but they made up 62.7 percent of unarmed people killed by police.

Unarmed victims of police killings are more likely to be minorities

3. Studies show officers are quicker to use force to shoot black suspects.

Studies show, for example, that officers are quicker to shoot black suspects in video game simulations.

Josh Correll, a University of Colorado Boulder psychology professor who conducted research, said it's possible the bias could lead to more skewed outcomes in the field.

"In the very situation in which (officers) most need their training," he said. "We have some reason to believe that their training will be most likely to fail them."

4. Law enforcement firearms deaths spiked 78 percent in the first half of 2016.

According to preliminary data compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, as of July 20, 2016, 67 federal, state and local law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty this year, increasing eight percent over the 62 officers killed in the same period last year.

Law enforcement firearms deaths

5. There is no good data on how many people police officers kill each year.

The federal government tracks police shootings and killings through the FBI's Supplementary Homicide Reports (SHR) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics's Arrest-Related Deaths (ARD), but both undercount the number of deaths to police.

A 2015 study by RTI International, which conducted the analysis for the Bureau of Justice Statistics, found that from 2003 to 2009 and 2011, ARD captured approximately 49 percent of people killed by police, while SHR captured 46 percent. Neither system picked up about 28 percent of law enforcement homicides in the U.S., meaning more than one-quarter of police-caused deaths weren't tracked at all under ARD or SHR.

6. Police can use deadly force if they merely perceive a threat.

In the 1980s, a pair of Supreme Court decisions — Tennessee v. Garner and Graham v. Connor — set up a framework for determining when deadly force by police is reasonable.

Constitutionally, "police officers are allowed to shoot under two circumstances," David Klinger, a University of Missouri St. Louis professor who studies use of force, told Vox's Dara Lind.

The first circumstance is "to protect their life or the life of another innocent party" — what departments call the "defense-of-life" standard. The second circumstance is to prevent a suspect from escaping, but only if the officer has probable cause to think the suspect poses a dangerous threat to others.

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