Almost 400 people in the United States died in the first five months of 2015 due to fatal shootings of the country’s law enforcement, something authorities admit is a result of poor policing.
The rate meant over two people die each day, according to a data analysis released by The Washington Post. It added that the figures so far reflect a rate two times higher than the rate of fatal shootings over the past decade the federal government tallied.
Jim Bueermann, a former police chief, said the database of shootings – which The Post collected from interviews, police reports and local news accounts – were “grossly underreported.” The tally that the federal government releases come from “self-reported figures” of law enforcement agencies.
“We are never going to reduce the number of police shootings, if we don’t begin to accurately track this information,” Bueermann said. The U.S. has 18,000 state and local police agencies.
Among the report’s salient findings:
– Half the victims were white, half-minority. Two-thirds were black or Hispanic. Specifically, 171 were white, 100 black, 54 Hispanic, six Asian, 3 others and 31 unknown.
– Majority of the victims, at 365, were men; 20 were women.
– About 49 people had no weapons, while the 13 who wielded carried guns were found to be wielding toy guns.
– Of the 385 total victims, 16 percent were either carrying a toy or were unarmed.
– The age range of those killed were found between 16-83. 118 were aged 25-34, while 94 were 35-44.Eight were children below 18.
– About 20 percent of the victims were killed while fleeing from the police; they were also unarmed.
Ronald L. Davis, a former police chief who heads the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, told The Post most of the cases could have been prevented.
“Police need to stop chasing down suspects, hopping fences and landing on top of someone with a gun,” he said. “When they do that, they have no choice but to shoot.”
While William Citty, Oklahoma City Police Chief, admits there will be instances that shootings will be unavoidable, will occur and potentially kill someone.
“We want to do the most we can to keep from taking someone’s life, even under the worst circumstances,” he said.