US Police Have Killed 1,000 People (And Counting) This Year

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US Police Have Killed 1,000 People (And Counting) This Year
A man who allegedly pointed a replica gun at police in Oakland, CA was shot and killed this Sunday after "several officers discharged their weapons without exchanging words," according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Guardian reports that this man (whose name has not been released) was the 1,000th person killed by police in the US this year:

Sunday’s incident was the 883rd fatal shooting by a law enforcement officer so far in 2015, according to the Guardian’s records. Another 47 people died after being shocked with an officer’s Taser, 33 died after being struck by a law enforcement officer’s vehicle, and 36 were killed in custody. Another received a deadly blow to the head during a fight with an officer.

As Reason has noted frequently, no national database exists to accurately determine the number of people killed by police, but The Guardian and sites such as Killed By Police and Fatal Encounters have stepped up to do the work that should be done by the federal government, a discrepancy which FBI Director James Comey correctly described as "embarrassing."

As noted in the Washington Post:

“It is unacceptable that The Washington Post and the Guardian newspaper from the U.K. are becoming the lead source of information about violent encounters between police and civilians. That is not good for anybody,” he said.

“You can get online today and figure out how many tickets were sold to ‘The Martian,’ which I saw this weekend. . . . The CDC can do the same with the flu,” he continued. “It’s ridiculous — it’s embarrassing and ridiculous — that we can’t talk about crime in the same way, especially in the high-stakes incidents when your officers have to use force.”

The Guardian describes its interactive database, which they call "The Counted," and briefly analyzes the data they've uncovered:

An analysis of the statistics collected so far found the rate of deaths currently stands at 3.1 per day. This rate has remained relatively steady throughout the year, peaking through the month of March to a daily rate of almost four and dipping to an average of 2.6 through June.

The Counted was launched on 1 June, logging 464 deaths in the year to that point. At that time 102 or 22% of those killed had been unarmed. This proportion has since fallen slightly to 20% or 198 of the total 1,000. In 59 deaths, however, it remains unclear whether the suspect was armed.

Killed By Police puts the current 2015 tally of deaths at the hands of US law enforcement at 1,039, whereas Fatal Encounters has presently confirmed 957 deaths.

I asked D. Brian Burghart, the publisher of Fatal Encounters, why the discrepancy in the numbers and he explained to me in an email that the fact-checking mechanisms of the three sites differ, as do some of the criteria. For instance, The Guardian does not include "suicides that happen during interactions with law enforcement," but Burghart's site does. Conversely, The Guardian includes some deaths that occur once a person has been incarcerated, but Fatal Encounters does not.

Regardless of the methodology, the numbers are strikingly similar, and however grim the details may be, it's heartening that the public now has a pretty good indication of the levels of deadly force used by agents of the state.