The use of deadly force by police officers is difficult to pin down due to record-keeping deficiencies — but what statistics we do have paint an alarming picture. A new report highlights the disparity between black and white victims of police shootings.
Using federal data from 2010-2012, ProPublica looked at over 1,200 incidents of deadly police shootings. They found black males age 15-19 were 21 times more likely to be fatally shot by law enforcement than white males of the same age.
That finding was part of a larger survey looking at police homicides since 1980. The outlet notes its findings "certainly seems to support what has been an article of faith in the African American community for decades: Blacks are being killed at disturbing rates when set against the rest of the American population."
But ProPublica also notes its findings are based on incomplete data because, as we've previously reported, federal statistics on police killings rely heavily on self-reporting from individual police departments — many of whom don't even bother to fill out the paperwork.
And that's been a huge source of frustration for anyone trying to find these statistics.
D. BRIAN BURGHART, FATALENCOUNTERS.ORG: "We don't really know the number of people killed by police."
THE DAILY SHOW'S SAMANTHA BEE: "Oh my god, why am I even here?"
The lack of reporting on this issue was thrown into sharp relief two months earlier, when Michael Brown was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. At the time, many outlets bemoaned the lack of proper accounting on the issue.
But the ProPublica report matches similar surveys that have been conducted in the past, including a 2007 analysis by ColorLines which found black and Latino males make up a disproportionate amount of fatal police shooting victims in 10 cities.
One more interesting findings from the ProPublica investigation: "officers under attack" incidents where deadly force was used by the police jumped from 33 percent in the 1980s to 62 percent in the late 2000s.
This video includes images from Getty Images.