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Fatal US police shootings in 2015 at 385: Report

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Walter Scott was shot and killed by North Charleston police officer Michael Slager on April 4, 2015, in North Charleston, South Carolina.

A new report shows that US police have shot and killed 385 people during the first five months of 2015, an average of more than two fatal shootings a day.

The death rate is over twice the account tallied by the federal government during the past 10 years, which officials admit is incomplete, according to a Washington Post analysis published on Saturday.

“These shootings are grossly under­reported,” said Jim Bueermann, a former police chief and president of the Washington-based Police Foundation, a nonprofit organization which works to improve law enforcement.

“We are never going to reduce the number of police shootings if we don’t begin to accurately track this information,” Bueermann was quoted by The Post as saying.

The analysis is the result of information The Post is compiling on every fatal shooting by police in 2015 in addition to data of every officer killed by gunfire in the line of duty.

The data is related to shootings and does not include killings by other means, such as stun guns and deaths in police custody.

The study shows that almost half the victims were minority. However, the demographics shifted markedly among the unarmed victims, with two-thirds being African American or Hispanic.

On the whole, US police killed blacks at three times the rate of whites or other minorities when adjusting by the population of the census tracts, where the shootings took place.

The Los Angeles Police Department engages in an altercation that ended in the death of a homeless man on March 1, 2015.

A large proportion of the victims, over 80 percent, were armed with objects, including guns, knives, machetes, revving vehicles and, in one case, a nail gun.

49 people were not armed with any weapons, while the guns used by 13 others were not real. Overall, 16 percent were either carrying a toy or were unarmed, according to The Post.

Several current and former police chiefs and other criminal justice officials said it was time police accepted responsibility for the bloodshed. They argued that a vast majority of the killings, examined by The Post, resulted from poor policing.

“We have to get beyond what is legal and start focusing on what is preventable. Most are preventable,” said Ronald L. Davis, a former police chief, who heads the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

Police “need to stop chasing down suspects, hopping fences and landing on top of someone with a gun,” Davis said. “When they do that, they have no choice but to shoot.”

The report came as many US cities have been the scene of protests over the deaths of several unarmed African Americans by white police officers and decisions by grand juries not to indict the officers.

Another analysis by The Post and researchers at Bowling Green State University, released last week, showed that only 54 officers have been charged for thousands of fatal shootings at the hands of police across the United States over the past decade.


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