So far this year, 24 unarmed black men have been shot and killed by police, one every nine days, says the Washington Post. Those 24 cases are a small fraction of the 585 people shot and killed by police through Friday evening. Most of those killed were white or Hispanic, and the vast majority of all victims were armed. Black men accounted for 40 percent of the 60 unarmed deaths, even though they make up just 6 percent of the U.S. population. Black men were seven times more likely than white men to die by police gunfire while unarmed. The disproportionate number of unarmed black men in the body count helps explain why outrage simmers a year after Ferguson, and why shootings that might have been ignored in the past are now coming under fresh public and legal scrutiny.
“Ferguson was a watershed moment in policing. Police understand they are now under the microscope,” said Mark Lomax of the National Tactical Officers Association, which represents police rank-and-file. Video shot by bystanders or captured on police camera has served in some cases to undermine trust in police. So far this year, three officers have been charged with crimes after fatally shooting unarmed black men. All three were caught on video. One, the April shooting of Eric Harris in Tulsa, appears to have been an accident. In the other two, the footage contradicted the officer's initial account of what happened. “Prior to Ferguson, police were politically untouchable. Ferguson changed that calculus,” said Georgetown University Prof. Paul Butler, a former federal prosecutor whose book, “The Chokehold: Policing Black Men,” is scheduled to be published next year.