Fatal Police Shootings in U.S. Continue at Same Pace

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Police nationwide shot and killed 492 people in the first six months of this year, a number nearly identical to the count for the same period in each of the prior two years, the Washington Post reports. Although the number of unarmed people killed by police dropped slightly, the overall pace for 2017 through Friday was on track to approach 1,000 killed for a third year in a row. The Post began tracking all fatal shootings by on-duty police after the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. The Post has documented twice as many shootings by police in 2015 and 2016 as ever recorded in a single year by the FBI’s tracking of such shootings, a pattern that is emerging again in 2017.

Since Brown’s killing, other police fatal shootings—many captured on video—have fueled protests and calls for reform. Some police chiefs have taken steps to reduce the number of fatal encounters, yet the overall numbers are unchanged. “These numbers show us that officer-involved shootings are constant over time,” said criminologist Geoffrey Alpert of the University of South Carolina. As in previous years, police this year most frequently killed white males who were armed with guns or other weapons. One in four people killed were mentally ill. Police have continued to shoot and kill a disproportionately large number of black males, who account for nearly a quarter of the deaths, yet are 6 percent of the population. Fatal shootings of unarmed people have declined, continuing a two-year trend. In 2017’s first six months, 27 unarmed people were fatally shot, compared with 34 for the same period in 2016 and 50 in 2015. The pace at which officers have been killed in the line of duty has held steady. The FBI says 21 police officers were killed from January to June 29, two fewer than in the same period last year.

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