Statistics about fatal police shootings are notoriously hard to come by, so the Washington Post started counting this year. The result is an analysis of 385 fatal police shootings — more than 2 per day — around the nation during the first 5 months of 2015. Reports the Post:
About half the victims were white, half minority. But the demographics shifted sharply among the unarmed victims, two-thirds of whom were black or Hispanic. Overall, blacks were killed at three times the rate of whites or other minorities when adjusting by the population of the census tracts where the shootings occurred.
And if you’re wondering if any of those fatal shootings produced charges against an officer, here’s what the newspaper found: only 3 resulted in an officer being charged with a crime — less than 1 percent of the total number of cases nationwide.
The low rate mirrors the findings of a Post investigation in April that found that of thousands of fatal police shootings over the past decade, only 54 had produced criminal charges. Typically, those cases involved layers of damning evidence challenging the officer’s account. Of the cases resolved, most officers were cleared or acquitted.
In all three 2015 cases in which charges were filed, videos emerged showing the officers shooting a suspect during or after a foot chase.
The killings resulting in charges cited by the paper were those of Walter Scott, a 50-year-old, unarmed, Black man who was shot in the back in South Carolina; Eric Harris, an unarmed, 44-year-old-Black man who was shot in Tulsa by a reserve deputy who reportedly thought he was using a Taser; and David Kassick, a 59-year-old White man who was unarmed and laying face-down on the ground when he was shot in Pennsylvania.