Cops killed people 351 out of 365 days in 2017

The vast majority of deaths could have been avoided.

Jan 6, 2018
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WASHINGTON, DC -DEC 05: Holding candles and photos, friends and family gathered at the Lincoln Memorial to remember Bijan Ghaisar. The vigil for Ghaisar, who was shot and killed by US Park Police attracted scores of supporters. Ghaisar was a 25-year-old accountant from McLean, Va. who led them on a chase from George Washington Parkway into Fairfax County. (Photo by Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

If cops didn’t kill anyone today, that makes it a special day. Last year, there were just 14 days when someone was not killed by the police, according to a lengthy new report from a research group known as Mapping Police Violence.

The report uses numbers from public records, obituaries, news reports, and databases like Fatal Encounters, Killed By Police and the U.S. Police Shootings Database. The result is the “most comprehensive accounting of deadly police violence” available, reports Complex. The analysis shows that the vast majority of deaths by cops could have been avoided, according to Mapping Police Violence.

As of December 26, 2017, police killed 1,129 people last year. That’s far more than the total number of American soldiers killed in action in 2017 around the globe (21), more than were killed by terrorists (four), airplane crashes (13), and mass shooters (428), points out The Root.

Just one percent of those deaths resulted in the cops involved being charged with a crime (let alone murder). Only 12 officers were charged with a crime related to a shooting death.

The report is published in a fully interactive format, delving into the details of every killing. It also highlights the lack of action among police departments in taking simple steps which could dramatically lower the death poll.

Most Victims Were Shot

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FERGUSON, MO – AUGUST 15: A Police officer confronts demonstrators during a protest over the shooting death of Michael Williams on August 15, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Of the 1,129 people killed by cops in 2017, 92 percent were fatally shot, the report reveals. At least 43 of the 534 officers involved in the killings had already shot or killed someone else, prior to 2017.

The majority of killings by police—resulting in the deaths of 718 people—started with officers responding to reports of suspected nonviolent crimes or stops for traffic violations. In some cases, no crime was ever committed.

Stark Racial Disparities

Police killed 147 unarmed people in 2017 (13 percent of the deaths), the majority of whom were people of color (48 African American and 34 Hispanic). One in five of those who did have a gun weren’t reported as threatening to use it at the time of their death.

Black people accounted for 27 percent of the people killed by cops. But of the unarmed victims of police killings, blacks made up 37 percent, almost triple their percentage of the American population (13 percent). Of the people who were both unarmed and not attacking, but were killed by cops anyway, 35 percent were black.

Local departments spend seven times as many hours training recruits to use their guns than they do training them to de-escalate, according to the report’s findings. De-escalation techniques are vital in police reform, especially in instances like the one in five cases involving armed suspects who hadn’t threatened to use their weapon.

Is Police Violence A Public Health Issue?

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FERGUSON, MO – AUGUST 14: Demetrus Washington joins other demonstrators protesting the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown on August 14, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

The American Public Health Association’s general council, in November, voted 65 percent to 35 percent to withdraw a policy statement briefly adopted last year that identified a four-part strategy for preventing police violence, reports KQED. The statement called violence by law enforcement officers a “significant” public health issue across the U.S.

“The fact that they’re not passing this statement that directly impacts black and brown communities sends a message that they’re not willing to stand up for those communities,” said Sari Bilick, public health organizer at Human Impact Partners.

The “Law Enforcement Violence as a Public Health Issue” policy statement was subsequently removed from the APHA’s website. A rewritten version of the statement is scheduled to be present this fall, according to association spokeswoman Megan Lowry.

“In this moment, I think it’s really important that, as the largest public health organization, APHA takes a bold stand and doesn’t shy away from publicly condemning police violence,” Bilick said. “If the biggest public health org in the country takes a stand on it, that will prompt more research, more journal articles, more responses within public health to police violence.”

What You Can Do

If you’d like to encourage your local representatives to take a stand against police violence, you can visit the Mapping Police Violence site.

Jan 6, 2018