Almost 1,200 people, mostly minorities, killed by US cops in 2015

© Eduardo Munoz
US law enforcement officers killed up to 1,199 people last year, the majority of whom were 'people of color'.

According to the open-source reporting project Killed by Police, 574 of those who died were minorities, 511 were white, and 107 undetermined.

Black men between the ages of 15 and 34 were 15 percent of those killed by police in 2015, despite making up just 2 percent of the US population.

That’s five times more than white men the same age, according to The Counted, a project launched in 2015 by journalists from The Guardian.

Its final tally of killings at the hands, weapons, or vehicles of US police officers last year was 1,134, while Killed by Police, which tracks “corporate media” reports, recorded 1,199 deaths.

The two figures vary because the projects use slightly different definitions of what constitutes a police killing.

Killed By Police was launched in 2013 and The Counted last year in response to the lack of comprehensive US government data on these type of fatalities, similar to the website Iraq Body Count.

The Counted’s database includes any deaths arising from direct encounters with police.

“Self-inflicted deaths” during police encounters, such as a person killed in a car crash while fleeing police during a car chase, and mass shootouts, in which police failed to identify who was killed by police and who was killed by civilians, are not counted by The Guardian project, but are included by Killed By Police.

Notable statistics:

  • One in five killed were unarmed.
  • At least six innocent bystanders were killed by officers during violent incidents.
  • Fourteen percent of killings followed an attempted traffic or street stop.
  • Seven percent after a non-violent crime.
  • The oldest victim was 87-year-old Louis Becker who died after his vehicle collided with a state trooper’s SUV in New York.
  • One transgendered person, Mya Hall, was killed in 2015... by National Security Agency (NSA) police.
  • Forty-three children under the age of 18 were killed by police.
  • California had more police killings relative to the size of its population than anywhere else in the country.
  • Rhode Island and Vermont were the only states where just one person was killed in 2015. Vermont’s killing happened the last week of the year when 56-year-old Kenneth Stephens was shot at 13 times after police say he pointed a rifle at them during a warranted search of his property.
  • A total of 89 percent of deaths by police were caused by gunshot, 4 percent were taser-related, 4 percent died in custody following physical confrontations, and 3 percent were struck by police officers driving vehicles.
  • Critically, The Counted found that only 255 of the killings, less than 25 percent, were considered “justified” by authorities.

Until now, no publicly-available data was gathered by the US government, but a new open-source system is being tested to track America’s growing “death by cop” epidemic.

Local police, medical, and investigative records will be used along with media reports. Previous government data relied solely on voluntary reporting by local law enforcement.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the new government program in the wake of Ferguson protests and the US outcry over cop killings.