Civilian deaths by police on the rise, but root-cause isn’t clear

Last week, The Hill Talk reported a story by the Washington Post which did an independent analysis/count of civilian deaths in the U.S. at the hands of police officers.  As of Dec. 24, the Post counted a total of 965 such killings, but two other independent sources have cited even higher numbers.

According to, “The most accurate, most comprehensive . . . list of people killed by U.S. law enforcement officers,” 2015 saw an even 1,200 civilian deaths.

The Guardian, on the other hand, counted 1,136 dead by law enforcement for the year.

Whether the exact number is 1,000 or 1,200, it’s clear police killings rose year-over-year in 2015.  However, not every subjective observer sees the phenomenon as an epidemic.

The New York Post ran an opinion piece on Saturday which pointed to some other relevant statistics to put the anti-police crowd in their place.

For example, of the 965 people who died as the result of police force, as cited by the Washington Post, only 90 were unarmed.  Moreover, 75 percent of the killings occurred when “cops were either under attack themselves or defending [innocent] civilians.”

In other words, most of those who paid the ultimate price did so under their own volition, by acting aggressively or stupidly when confronted by an officer.  Approximately 30 percent of the incidents occurred as the result of suspects taking off in their vehicles after being stopped for minor traffic violations.

Consider also the murder-rates in some of America’s worst inner-city neighborhoods are higher than some of the most violent countries in the world:  In Chicago’s West Garfield Park, the annual murder-rate is a staggering 116.7 per 100,000, 153 times higher than the rate of civilians killed by police in 2015.

By comparison, Honduras, the so-called murder murder capital of the world, had an average annual murder-rate of 89 per 100,000 from 2011-2013.


[Washington Post] [The Guardian] [New York Post] [World Bank Group] [Photo courtesy]