Amid the ongoing protests surrounding police brutality, the Washington Post conducted a report investigating the number of fatal police shootings in 2015, and the findings are staggering.
Analysts found that since January 1, 385 people have died after being shot by police. That number, which is twice the rate of what the government has reported, works out to nearly two deaths per day.
Examining hundreds of police reports, conducting interviews and analyzing local media coverage, investigators found that 50 percent of the victims were minorities. However, when the number of minorities living in a community was adjusted to mirror the percentage of White residents, African-Americans and Hispanics were killed three times as often as White people. The majority of victims were between the ages of 25 and 34.
“We have to get beyond what is legal and start focusing on what is preventable,” Ronald Davis, head of the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, said to the Washington Post. “Most are preventable.”
In 62 cases, the victim was unarmed, and in nearly one-quarter of the shootings, the family reported that the victim suffered from a mental illness. Half of the shootings happened as a result of friends, family members or strangers calling 911 to report someone who was suicidal or acting erratically.
Despite the high rate of fatal shootings, just a small percentage has been reported to the FBI by police departments, which can report shootings at their discretion. According to WaPo, only 3 percent of shootings resulting in deaths have been reported since 2011. More so, in the last 10 years, only 54 percent of officers involved have been charged with a crime (three officers have been charged this year).
“These shootings are grossly underreported,” Jim Bueermann, former police chief and president of a police reform nonprofit, said to the Post. “We are never going to reduce the number of police shootings if we don’t begin to accurately track this information.”