In the wake of country-wide protests in the aftermath of police shootings, the Washington Post has begun an investigation into police accountability across America. A specific component in the study is police shootings, the majority of which have been proven to be in self-defense. But the numbers don’t exactly line up with the rhetoric we are hearing from protestors in cities like Baltimore and Ferguson.
The race of the victim in police shootings has been a hot-button issue, causing divisions on both sides of the argument, but this study has found that in the almost 400 police shootings that took place this year, most of the victims have been white males. In fact, almost twice as many white males have been shot and killed by police than black males.
According to the Washington Post, about 8 percent of all gun related deaths come at the hands of police officers.
Through June 1, there have been 5,099 gun deaths in the U.S., according to up-to-date numbers maintained by the Gun Violence Archive. Based on the 385 figure, that means that American police are responsible for about 1 in every 13 non-suicide gun deaths in the country, or 8 percent.
Many of these killings are undoubtedly justifiable acts of self-defense. The Post database shows that 317 of the police shooting victims were carrying guns or other weapons at the time of their death. On the other hand, that leaves 62 police shootings where the victim didn’t have any weapon at all, and another six where the presence of a victim’s weapon is still unknown.
According to Guns.com, in half of these cases police were responding to domestic disturbances while the other half of the cases involved typical law enforcement duties like responding to crimes in progress and serving warrants.
In 87% of the shootings, the victims were armed with some sort of weapon. 57% of the time this weapon was a gun.