In January 2016, police killed 113 people — at least one person was fatally gunned down by a cop every day that month. One particularly deadly day, January 27, saw ten people meet their fate, thanks to the police. On average, that is almost 4 people a day.
And there is no indication this tragic epidemic will end soon.
That daily average is higher than the annual average of other countries. For example, in all of 2011, British police killed 2 people. In 2012, 1 person. In 2013, a total of 3 bullets left the barrels of British police guns, and no one was killed. In the last two years, a total of 4 people have lost their lives because of British cops, bringing the total number of citizens killed in the UK to 7 in the last 5 years.
Nonprofit Fatal Encounters — which compiled the January statistics — tracks, verifies, maps, and charts the data for deadly police incidents, which admittedly isn’t complete due to a continuing lack of mandatory national reporting requirement. That lack also creates gaps in available information — such as race or age, or even deaths, themselves — which might otherwise aid those seeking to curb, and ultimately end, police brutality. Though the numbers include killings by police which might be legally justified, many of the incidents’ circumstances aren’t entirely known.
One researcher for the site, Christopher Cox, who handles deaths by law enforcement agencies in Texas, explained in October he’d already received 1,916 responses to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests — a sign Fatal Encounters truly strives for thoroughness.
According to the website,
“Fatal Encounters is intended to help create a database of all deaths through police interaction in the United States since Jan. 1, 2000.”
“This site will remain as impartial and data-driven as possible, directed by the theory that Americans should be able to answer some simple questions about the use of deadly force by police: How many people are killed in interactions with law enforcement in the United States of America? Are [the numbers] increasing? What do those people look like? Can policies and training be modified to have fewer officer-involved shootings and improve outcomes and safety for both officers and citizens?”
Answers to those questions have been attempted by various groups and multiple websites, such as Killed By Police, which relies almost completely on information contributed by the public; and The Counted, a project by The Guardian which, though praised for its interactive database, has been lightly criticized for low counts.
Killed By Police listed 1,205 total killings by law enforcement for 2015, but hasn’t yet listed any statistics for 2016. The Counted tallied just 83 deaths compared to Fatal Encounters 113 for January 2016.
It would be most desirable for there to be a reporting requirement — or no need whatsoever for any database of those killed by the very people tasked with protecting them from harm.