In the wake of the protests and rioting over the death of George Floyd, I thought I would provide some context and perspective.
First of all, the death of George Floyd and everyone on the list I have acquired are tragedies, individually and collectively. The police officers who were criminally liable should not have been shielded by “qualified immunity.”
The data I am working off of is from The Washington Post which compiled the fatalities data, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics from which I derived the estimated number of annual police-civilian encounters. Before I get into this, I wish to note that George Floyd is not on this list. I searched by name, by city and date. He is not in here, but 40 people who died after him are.
So on to the data. According to the WaPo data, between 1/2/2015 and 6/8/2020, over a span of 1,984 days, 5,401 people died in police encounters. That’s an average of 2.72 people a day. Out of that 5,401, 352 were unarmed, 162 were “undetermined” and another 227 had no information at all, the field was blank. If I wanted to be strict with the data, I would have stayed with the declared unarmed. However, I am including all three of the categories, to make the case against the police as strong as possible. Of those 741, a total of 261 were listed as Black or no race given. Again, I am including the “no race given” to maximize the case against the police.
I also want to lay out up front that Blacks are on this list in every metric I looked at were at least double than their percentage of the general population. Overall, 24% of the deaths were Black, and 34% of those killed had a gun. And 73% of the “unarmed” deaths were Black.
According to BJS, in 2011 there were 62,936,500 police-civilian encounters, where the civilian was 16 or older. That works out to be about 172,429 every day. Over the 5 ½ years of this data, that daily average works out to be 342,098,674 total encounters. Say this aloud to yourself: “Five thousand four hundred deaths out of three hundred forty-two million encounters.”
Total Encounters 342,098,674
|Group||% of encounters
||% of deaths|
Black or no race given
Let’s put these numbers into context. Let’s say I ask you to walk into a room, with the prize being you get to go home afterwards. If I told you that you have a 99.99843% of coming out alive, would you walk in? Because that’s what the 0.00157% means. If you have a 0.00157% chance of dying, you have a 99.99843% chance of surviving the experience.
In order to reduce all numbers to the same unit, that 261 works out to an average of 47 people a year. Please tell me, as far as the entire nation goes, how can the deaths of these 47 people a year be in any way construed as a “systematic extermination of Blacks”?
Let me put it this way. With a limited pool of resources (time, money, public sentiment, etc.), which group would benefit the most to get a 50% reduction in deaths? Which group do we save first?
47 unarmed Blacks die at the hands of the police every year
2,600 Blacks die at the hand of other Blacks every year. Source
WHICH ONE WOULD YOU THINK IS A MORE PRESSING PROBLEM?
WHICH ONE CAUSES MASS PROTESTS?
Which way does our priorities lie? Which one of those numbers seems to be more important to us?
In summary, every person who died in police custody died unnecessarily. Each and every officer responsible should and must be held liable, criminally and civilly, for their actions. Abolish the qualified immunity. Abolish the police unions that protect the overly aggressive bullies. Quickly fire officers that have justified overaggressive complaints against them. Don’t hire officers from other departments with proven complaints against them. Arm them with bodycams, for the protection of the officer and the citizen. PAY THEM MORE so quality applicants can be attracted.
If, IF we do all of these things and a couple more, then the deaths will drop and maybe the people can start trusting the police again.