At least 385 people were shot and killed by US police nationwide this year as of Friday, according to an article published on Saturday by the Washington Post.
The analysis by the newspaper tallies deaths at close to 2.6 per day, compared to the 1.1 daily average tallied by the federal government over the past ten years - a count that officials admit is not complete.
A former police chief and the current president of the Police Foundation Jim Bueermann called the shootings “grossly underreported” and said this information needs to be tracked accurately to reduce the number of police shootings.
The US is currently embroiled in a national debate about policing and the use of deadly force, especially against minorities.There have been many protests against police brutality and a report by a White House task force has called for reforms.
Rather than rely on figures collected by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which come from police agencies’ voluntary reports, The Washington Post decided to base its own calculations on a self-compiled database consisting exclusively of shootings.
Police are authorised to use deadly force in the event they fear for their lives or the lives of others. More than 80 percent of the victims in the Washington Post article were armed, mostly with guns, but also knives, machetes and other such potentially lethal objects.
On the other hand, 49 of the 385 victims were unarmed and 13 were armed with toy guns. These two groups made up 16 percent of the victims.
While about half the victims were white and half minority, when the data was analysed based on demographics, blacks were killed at three times the rate of whites. The Washington Post used census data to adjust for the population where the shootings took place.
Of the 385 fatal shootings, only three have resulted in an officer being charged with a crime.