The Disturbing Number of People Killed By Police Each Day in 2015

July 16th 2015

To date, 516 people have been shot and killed by police in the United States this year. Eighty in the past 30 days alone. That's at least two police-involved deaths per day, and the numbers don't show any signs of slowing. 

The Washington Post started tracking these shootings after a number of police-involved incidents made headlines in 2014. They pore over local news reports, analyze independent databases, and publish an updated tally in real-time. They also collect details about each death, including the race of the person killed, circumstantial information, and whether or not the victim was armed at the time of the incident. 

Police Shootings Per MonthThe Washington Post - washingtonpost.com

"The Post is documenting only shootings in which a police officer, while on duty, shot and killed a civilian—circumstances that most clearly parallel the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri," the investigative staff explains. "The Post is not tracking deaths of people in custody, fatal shootings by off-duty officers, or deaths in which police gunfire did not kill the individual." 

Given the narrow scope of the paper's guidelines for this database, it seems all the more unsettling that the number continues to grow, exceeding even the dreariest official accounts. High-profile cases of fatal, police-involved shootings such as Michael Brown and Walter Scott have prompted outrage across the country, but the quiet rage that has prompted protests in their names is a reaction to a problem that appears increasingly endemic to America. That is, the cumulative shootings and deaths—two every day this year—carried out by police.  

The first week of July was the worst of 2015 by far, with 31 people killed by officers in cities as far removed as Dallas and Bakersfield, California. In contrast to figures reported by the FBI, the Post's database has tracked more shooting deaths this year than "any single year since 1976."

On July 9, the number reached 500.

"While the FBI has never recorded more than 460 fatal police shootings in an entire year, the Post identified 463 such shootings in just the first six months of 2015," the Post's Wesley Lowery noted.

Following protests spurred, in part, by the killing of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old black man who died in police custody last year, President Obama created a special task force that was designed to combat the problem of growing tension between police and the communities they serve. The task force released a 120-page report in May, recommending that law enforcement agencies refocus their efforts "on community policing and outreach efforts to residents of high-crime communities," according to USA Today. "It also calls for 'external and independent investigations and prosecutions of officer-involved shootings." 

But now, as we exceed 500 deaths by police gunfire this year, the need for reformed policing protocol—as well as reform in the country's criminal justice system overall—remains critical. 

Share your opinion

Do you trust your local police?

Yes 22%No 78%