Only 5 Percent Of Fatal Shootings By Police Raise Doubts, Cause Outcry


Amid 800 fatal shootings by police so far this year. public debate and criticism grows over police use of deadly force. Only about five percent of the shootings occurred under the kind of circumstances that raise doubt and draw public outcry, found an analysis by the Washington Post. The vast majority of individuals shot and killed by police officers were, like Snyder, armed with guns and killed after attacking police officers or civilians or making other direct threats. Jim Pasco of the national Fraternal Order of Police, said the findings confirm what police officers already know. “We know that anecdotally, because typically that's why police officers choose to use deadly force,” said Pasco, whose organization includes 335,000 officers. “These are circumstances where their lives or the lives of citizens around them are in imminent danger.”

In 74 percent of fatal police shootings, those killed had already fired shots, brandished a gun or attacked a person with a weapon or their bare hands, finds an analysis of actions immediately preceding the shootings, which draws on reports from law enforcement agencies and media coverage. These 595 cases include fatal shootings that followed a wide range of violent crimes, including shootouts, stabbings, hostage situations, carjackings and assaults. Another 16 percent of the shootings came after incidents that did not involve firearms or active attacks but featured other potentially dangerous threats. These shootings were most commonly of people with knives who refused to drop them. The 5 percent of cases that are often second-guessed include individuals who police said failed to follow their orders, made sudden movements or were accidentally shot. The Post is tracking all fatal shootings by police on duty in 2015. The FBI and the U.S. attorney general have acknowledged weaknesses in their own counting of fatal shootings by police and announced plans to collect better data.

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