Below are the statistics of fatal officer involved shootings according to a Washington Post study that began in 2015.
These statistics and this article serve as the foundation for topics I plan to discuss in the future.
Fatal police shootings, unarmed fatal police shootings, race as it relates to fatal police shootings, and lastly, the media’s coverage of such tragic events.
Highly contested topics, no doubt. But topics I feel need to be addressed, despite the expected backlash from trolls, anti-police haters, and career criminals. They will likely come out of the woodwork, spew hate in a feeble attempt to feel better about themselves. That’s fine, their hate and how it plays into the cycle of violence in America will be discussed in a future article.
Here are the numbers broken down by year, race, and a second set of numbers focused ONLY on the unarmed fatal shootings:
A few things to note regarding the unarmed shooting statistics.
The Washington Post does a great job of taking their data collection one step further when classifying these incidents. They track subcategories regarding unarmed shootings which are, “attack in progress” and “mental illness.”
These contributing factors alone do not justify the officer’s actions. That is NOT what I am suggesting. However, it usually adds context as to why the incident took place and could justify the shooting.
For example, the unarmed statistics include people who were reported to have fought police, attempted to take their gun, or reached into their waistband or jacket. Though tragic, this could justify the officer’s actions in most cases. And certainly changes the perception that these people did nothing at all to cause the shooting to occur.
I can already hear the haters.
“Fighting the police shouldn’t be a death sentence!”
I agree. I wish it never happened. I wish people never fought the police. I wish the police never had to shoot anyone. Wouldn’t that be a great society to live in?
Unfortunately, that is not reality.
This does not excuse officers who use deadly force unjustifiably. Nor does it negate people’s bad decisions to fight police, attempt to disarm police, or disobey commands and reach into their waistband. The police didn’t force them to make such horrible decisions, they simply reacted to it.
Unfortunately, this line of thinking, suggests we are being rational and honest when assigning blame for what transpired. A difficult task in a country fueled on media headlines and emotion. People who refuse to read an article and gathering facts before simply taking a headline as gospel, good, bad, or otherwise.
Somehow it is lost on some people, if you don’t fight the police, you’ll likely be lumped into the 60+ million annual encounters between police and citizens where NOTHING bad happens. Yes, as of 2015, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 60+ million encounters occur annually between police and citizens every year.
Lastly, and most importantly, a narrative exists that suggests police shooting unarmed people has become an “epidemic” in America. The narrative suggests that the trend is increasing or worsening.
However, a quick review of these statistics collected by a third party, a presumably unbiased news source nonetheless, would suggest otherwise.
In fact, it appears to suggest the opposite, a downward trend since 2015 in unarmed shootings by police in America. Interesting to say the least. You would think this would be good news. Fewer shootings, less tragedy. But yet the media remains silent, waiting for the next possibility to stir controversy through headlines.
The new rhetoric and sentiment remain, “the police are the enemy.”
More on this, the media, and related topics to come.
Be safe and thank an officer today.
The Officer Next Door