How many people are killed by law enforcement across the country in a given year? There is no official number available, because the U.S. government does not release data on the subject. At present, the FBI only tallies the number “justifiable homicides” by police officers in the line of duty.
However, British newspaper The Guardian has painstakingly gathered all available information and stories of citizens being killed by police from across the United States. The newspaper determined that approximately 3.1 Americans—on average—have died every day as a result of police action thus far in 2015.
The Guardian also broke the numbers down by race and ethnicity:
- 502 White (2.54 per million)
- 250 Black (5.94 per million)
- 163 Hispanic / Latino (2.94 per million)
- 54 Other
- 18 Asian / Pacific Islander (1.01 per million)
- 13 Native American (3.4 per million)
The Guardian launched an interactive guide to all the year’s police killings on June 1. Following the shooting death of an Oakland, California by police on Sunday, November 15, The Guardian announced the total number of American deaths at the hands of law enforcement reached 1,000.
In the Oakland case, police opened fire on a man carrying a replica gun. The man approached police as they were towing away vehicles involved in an impromptu stunt show on city streets. Oakland police said they did not know the man had a replica gun until after the shooting.
Oklahoma has the highest recorded deaths by police per capita with 36. California has the highest total number of deaths with 183.
Sixteen Missourians were killed by police in 2015, compared to 25 Illinois residents.