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By the numbers: Washington Post investigation in 2015 found 990 police-involved killings in U.S.

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An investigation done by the Washington Post found that although black males account for 6 percent of the U.S. population, 40 percent of unarmed males shot to death by police were black. File photo

by Patrick B. McGuigan, editor
The City Sentinel

OKLAHOMA CITY – A Washington Post investigation completed late last year found a total of 990 police-involved killings across the United States, including 32 in Oklahoma.

Nationally, in four percent of the cases, the incident involved white police officers killing an unarmed black man. The Post also found that although black males account for 6 percent of the U.S. population, 40 percent of unarmed males shot to death by police were black.

As of December 24, nationwide, 90 of the people killed by police were not armed.

Of the 990 persons killed by police nationwide, 948 were males, and 42 were females. By race, the Post study found 494 whites were killed by police officers, while 258 were black, 172 were Hispanic, and 66 were “other.”

As for signs of mental illness, records indicated 250 of those shot and killed by police had some form of mental illness, the other 740 did not or the information could not be discerned.

The Post analysis determined that attacks were in progress in 730 of the shootings that led to death, while 216 were in other circumstances, with 44 “not sure.”

In the state of Oklahoma, in 2015, a total of 32 men (and no women) were shot to death by police, according to The Washington Post analysis. Twenty of those men were white, nine were black, one was Hispanic and two were “unknown.” An attack was in progress in 26 of the police shootings in Oklahoma, the Post found, while in six cases the circumstances were “other” or “unknown.”

For the national study, according to a summary posted online by the newspaper, “The Post compiled data about each death, including the race of those killed, whether they were armed and descriptions of the events. The project revealed that police nationwide were killing more than twice as many people as the FBI had previously reported.”

The summary also noted, “In October [2915], the agency’s director, James B. Comey, said it was ‘unacceptable’ that journalists had become the leading source of information on the subject. In December, an FBI official told The Post the agency is overhauling how it tracks violent police encounters, calling it ‘the highest priority.’

The Post  will continue tracking fatal shootings by police in 2016.

The Washington Post began work on monitoring police-involved killings nationwide, the summary explained, in 2014: “The killing of an unarmed black man by a white police officer [in 2014] in Ferguson, Mo., ignited a national debate and exposed the federal government’s failure to track the use of deadly force by police. The Washington Post launched a comprehensive project to log every on-duty fatal shooting by police in 2015.”

The Post staff prepared graphics providing detailed information about other aspects of the police-involved killings, covering other issues, including types of weapon used, age of the person killed.

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