Police Killed v. Killed by Police: a Statistical Perspective


(not Norman Rockwell, by Anthony Freda)

Underlying the convictions reflexive proponents and/or apologists of police killing citizens is often the assumption that being a cop is sincerely fraught with the danger of death in the line of duty.  Even here at FDL I’ve read a few comments that say that if a cop is facing ‘an armed person’, he should shoot, never mind that many of the alleged weapons have often turned out to be cell phones, rather obvious toy guns, once even a spoon, a wallet, or in the case of John Crawford, an unloaded bee-bee gun he’d taken off a Beavercreek Walmart shelf and was holding while chatting on his cell phone. Many of the victims killed by cops in the past several years indeed had weapons of some sort, but were not ‘brandished toward police’ as so many cops testi-lied in their reports.

Sure, being a cop can be a dangerous profession, but far less dangerous statistically than most people imagine. Consider the flip side: that cops’ abject fear of blacks, Latinos/Latinas, and mentally ill (read: the other), often leads to completely unwarranted executions in far too many cases. It’s the same reaction of rage over a person being either unwilling, or more importantly, unable to follow police orders that has led to so many summary executions. An email friend who’s been involved in several states with police brutality and assassinations over multiple decades posits that perhaps 90% of recent episodes did not have to result in death of a ‘suspect’. Whether or not that number is correct, clearly it’s closer to the truth than law enforcement would ever care to admit.

Two nights ago in Ferguson, MO, two cops were injured by gunshot; one claimed to be investigating a robbery at a local community center when one of two suspects ran away, and one turned, and shot him in his upper arm (AP had reported earlier that the cop was a female). The story is evolving, and nowit’s turned out it was only one alleged would-be thief, who has yet to be apprehended. So, we’ll see if they recover bullets, see if his lapel camera were on or off, or what. Missing evidence implicating police culpability or accountability is so prevalent that it seems baked into the system by now.

The second shooting was apparently on the interstate, multiple shooters allegedly having fired at an off-duty cop not in uniform, and driving his personal vehicle. Both came during the protests following police chief Tom Jackson’s kinda/sorta apology for the death of Michael Brown. Immediately after the frantic and rumor-laden reports, the #Ferguson on Twitter comment stream was plum full of sick, racist, classist lies and killer cop support.

Excuse my digression, but it seemed a necessary prelude for the statistics.

The Statistics

Killed by Police on Facebook has kept a running tally of as many corporate media reports of killings since May, 2013. All killings, never front-loading’ necessary or unnecessary’ opinions. But by their tally, which they know is necessarily incomplete, the numbers show that since Jan. 1 2014, as of today, police have killed 818 people in this nation.

Now let’s look at the figures from the ‘Officer Down Memorial Page, Remembering All of Law Enforcement’s Heroes’.

On their ‘Honoring Officers Killed in 2014’ page they list:

Line of Duty Deaths: 79

Assault: 1
Automobile accident: 18
Drowned: 1
Fire: 1
Gunfire: 35
Gunfire (Accidental): 1 (Oopsie.)
Heart attack: 8
Motorcycle accident: 2
Struck by vehicle: 3
Vehicle pursuit: 2
Vehicular assault: 7 (What is that,, by the by? The site doesn’t say)

Included are sheriff deputies, state police, border patrol, highway patrol, all military police, prison and jail guards, and even Forest Service (and I’d assume) BLM security police.

But even if all police deaths in the line of duty were counted, even the ones that seem to be only indirect caused by police ‘duties’, it still amounts to 818 people killed by police v. 79 police killed, leading a thinking person to wonder who’s more at risk by whom?

This could be the natural end for a readable diary, but my tendency is to provide too many extras for readers who want to know more, and I do have a lot more, including bits and bobs from the following articles. For now, I’ll just give the titles (if rather haphazardly), and if you want more, either click into them and ask questions, make comments, or I’ll provide the bits I saw as key.

Policing Empire: The call to demilitarize police overlooks the longstanding link between policing and empire’ by by Stuart Schrader (Beware of ‘police reform’)

David Correia’s Sept. 21 ‘Albuquerque City Council Abolishes Police Oversight Commission, Creates New Civilian Police Oversight Agency’ (ahead of a negotiated city-DoJ Consent Decree)

No Charges in Ohio Police Killing of John Crawford as Walmart Video Contradicts 911 Caller Account: Newly released surveillance footage shows major discrepancies between a 911 caller’s account, and what really happened’

Ferguson demands high fees to turn over city files’

Undue Force’ (Baltimore Sun): The city has paid about $5.7 million since 2011 over lawsuits claiming that police officers brazenly beat up alleged suspects. One hidden cost: The perception that officers are violent can poison the relationship between residents and police’

Current law gives police wide latitude to use deadly force: Ferguson shooting case renews debate over whether officers have too much leeway, too little accountability’ (WaPo) (It includes relevant SCOTUS case law)

In atypical approach, grand jury in Ferguson shooting receives full measure of case’ (It could be titled slow-walk the case before the GJ to cover county prosecutor McCulloch’s ass or ‘bore them to death so that they don’t issue an indictment against Darren Wilson) Last I’d read, November was mentioned for the end of the evidence phase. No police report, no FBI report…just lots of…who knows what?

And this lulu you’ll no doubt love: ‘Seattle police aren’t using enough force, internal memo says’

A bonus short film: ‘Film Exposes Militarized Police Facts Day Ahead of Hearings in Congress’ from Tuesday, 09 September 2014 by Brave New Films (Yeah, you know it all already…)

(cross-posted at My.Firedoglake.com)

18 responses to “Police Killed v. Killed by Police: a Statistical Perspective

  1. Reminds me of a local story where four local city police officers, newly outfitted with tasers, thought they had a good chance to test them out on a know psychologically disturbed subject, when surrounding the subject being, “loud,” after bar closing and needed to be apprehended. Two officers fired simultaneously shot tasers at this guy, without a jacket or boots or mittens in 10 below zero weather to bring him in. Big success reported in the hometown news, though subject had needed emergency medical transport and had nearly been killed from a stopped heart or something. Local “news,” does not carry archives on line anymore.

  2. And like the Secret Service on down, they’re PAID to take the bullet for US (not AT US)! And otoh, NOT All Unbold/OLD cops, merely filing the insurance reports after waiting out the armed robberies in the donut shops, etcetera, etc. …

  3. A bit of sublime liquid silk centers me on most occasions. Countering the crazy cop-capades with the art of pure love.

  4. arrgh. electronic village tries to keep track of deaths by tasers.

    the ‘safe alternative to shooting’. too bad it doesn’t always work out that way, and how ironic is it that in so many deaths by cop recently citizens witnesses ak, ‘Couldn’t you have tased him or her?’

    bruce: i’m not quite sure i take your meaning, but it seems to be the culture, unless you mean that the executed take the bullets. no; that makes no sense, as they’re not paid.

    oh, my, nonquixote. years and years ago a friend taped that whole show for me. think of the star power musicians who were onstage; we bow down! all of the female backup singers have gone on to become among the best in the business; whoosh.

  5. Justsuggesting that justasking is justinsinuating and I admire your justbeingpatient. I however, don’t always justkeepmycool that well. Thanks for the positive instruction.

  6. justanotherasshattroll, i’d say, but kudos aside, i just told him that i’m done. whatawasteoftime, lol.


  7. Nice diplomatic take-down, InDeed.

    Now, if only ALL of US would so practice such peaceful approach and devotion to law, up to and including especially our DESPOTUS precedential ‘stranger out of the east; lawbook in hand’; maybe we’d be back to a nation of laws and Liberty, sans Violence!

  8. ‘without violence/valance’, lol.

    ach. some people are so predisposed to be peckerwood pissants, aren’t they?

    wow, lee marvin too? jimmy sure did K-pow! john wayne. fun to see; i reckon i must never have seen it. but gene pitney, oh yes. seventh grade: 24 hours from tulsa. mean gurls said because i bought it, i was a slut. ;) wot?

    night everyone.

  9. Aauugh … W.T.F. fdl on Fla. gunplay!?

  10. way-ullllll. i hadda look up ‘castle doctrine law’, guessing ‘parking lot’ might be just the same…and here’s the view from supporters:

    ‘Florida “Castle Doctrine” Protects the Innocent; Puts Judiciary on the side of crime victims; News media gets it completely wrong


    dunno if it’s just like ‘make my day’ in CO or many states’ ‘stand your ground’, but i expect it is.

  11. * Bullet point here is Floriduhm-duhm (e.g., Martin murderer Zimmerman)? Yes!
    But my fdl exclamation point was surprise at its NRA ad for FL governor (sic) Rick Scott, over anybody (putatively, DEM Crist)!

  12. WI Public Radio reported a homeowner who pursued a house intruder beyond the man’s interior, violated WI’s castle doctrine law recently enacted under the Replicon™ regime. Homeowner who pursued the intruder and fired shots while standing outside, as the intruder was running away, was charge and sentenced to 2 yrs in state prison, reckless endangerment with a firearm, didn’t catch it exactly .

  13. bruce, i have to say that by now i am utterly lost, not just about
    ‘fdl exclamation point’.

  14. Model approach? Last half hour of the podcast speaks of a specially trained response team that is deployed in known or suspected incident calls involving mentally disturbed individuals. Combined with a major facility for treating and helping these “troubled,” individuals in San Antonio, TX, success has been achieved in terms of reducing overall public costs for treatment verses prison, and at the same time, providing actual ongoing help for individuals. Podcast can be down-loaded for listening at your leisure.


    Thought a note of encouragement and an example of common sense was worth reporting.

  15. it is, and i thank you, nonquixote. leisure? whazzat? but srsly, i can’t process audio only well, so i usually try to find a transcript, or watch their lips move in a video interview or such. i assume: no swat teams or police?

  16. It’s radio, what can I say, no transcript but the first 1/2 hour was a person who did some wonderful expose’ work on the mental health crisis and problem in Milwaukee and the second half hour, with a bit of TX easy paced dialog was easy to follow. Giggle the names from San Antonio and there is probably some blog stuff or news to check out. Mailed the link to our much respected Albuquerque stalwart, earlier. Any ideas are better than the status quo. Didn’t have time to review the whole thing myself yet.
    Getting old back in 1985, there’s a 30 year time flies, woooosh!

  17. you must mean barbara? good, if so, but the thing is, that group has little contact with the ptb there. wish i were more of a neil young fan in his later years, but i did love him in his buffalo springfield vintage.

    i lived in a group house in boulder around 1969, ’70, and one roommate used to sing along with that song: ‘keep me searchin’ for that pot of gold…’
    sweet dreams, nonquixote.

  18. okay, idiocy made forget crosby, stills, nash, and young. :) but i judt dug out neil’s ‘whos gonna stand up to save the earth?’, and was reminded why i’d deleted it here after i actually listened.

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