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Police Killings by U.S. State 2022

While the overwhelming majority of police actions are completed safely, scenarios also arise in which police officers administer lethal force, causing the death of civilians (usually suspects) involved in the situation. Police killings are a subject of considerable controversy and often inspire both deep debate and far-reaching investigations. The fact that minorities, particularly blacks, appear notably more likely than whites to die during a police encounter is an area of particular concern.

Police in the United States kill more people than do police in any other advanced democratic country. Moreover, the trend seems to be increasing, with 2021 recording the highest number of police killings (1,144) yet registered (though tracking systems are still in their infancy). The actions of police officers involved in killings are often heavily scrutinized, with the dual goal of determining the officer's aptitude/culpability and seeking out safer police procedures that ensure preventable deaths are indeed prevented.

10 States with the Most Police Killings (Mapping Police Violence - 2021)*

  1. California — 156
  2. Texas — 105
  3. Georgia — 59
  4. Florida — 51
  5. Colorado — 42
  6. Arizona — 41
  7. Tennessee — 39
  8. Illinois — 31
  9. Missouri — 31
  10. North Carolina — 30

* For all 50 states and full racial breakdowns, see table at end of page.

Racial trends in police killings

From 2017 through 2021, police in the United States killed more whites than they did blacks, hispanics, or any other minority. However, whites also make up a far larger percentage of the total U.S. population than do people of any other race or ethnicity. When the number of killings is compared to the overall number of Americans of any given race or ethnicity, whites are revealed to be much less likely to be killed during a police encounter than are blacks, hispanics, and other minorities.

Ultimately, blacks comprise roughly 13% of the total U.S. population, but account for 25%-27% of people killed by police. This makes blacks 2.9 times more likely than whites to die at the hands of police.

Errors in reporting of police killings

One of the most concerning issues that came to light after the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri was the lack of a comprehensive national database tracking police shootings. The federal government and several third-parties (the Washington Post, Mapping Police Violence, the Guardian) have founded databases designed to better track this information. However, police departments themselves have often proven resistant to sharing it, and the race of the person killed is frequently unknown or unrecorded.

These confounding factors can introduce vagaries to per-race totals. For example, one database noted that the "unknown ethnicity" category rose from 126 in 2020 to 608 in 2021. The overall number of killings actually rose from 2020 to 2021, but the availability of the details about those killings decreased.

How Many White Americans and Black Americans Are Killed by US Police?

According to MappingPoliceViolence.org, whose data include not only police shootings but also other fatal actions such as the suffocation restraint that killed George Floyd in 2020, U.S. police have killed approximately 400-500 white Americans per year over the past half-decade. In the case of black Americans, the yearly averages between 250-280 people killed per year.

Race 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
White 482 414 449 513 510
Black 266 250 282 265 278

How Many Hispanic-Americans Are Killed by U.S. Police?

In terms of raw numbers, the police kill fewer Hispanic/Latino Americans than blacks or whites, but the numbers are still significant.

Race 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
White 482 414 449 513 510
Hispanic 190 201 206 213 226

Police Killings by U.S. State 2022

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Police Killings by U.S. State 2022

Note: Per Capita value is rate per 1M population.

Police Killings by U.S. State 2022

Sources