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About this story
The Washington Post is compiling a database of every fatal shooting in the United States by a police officer in the line of duty since Jan. 1, 2015.
In 2015, The Post began tracking more than a dozen details about each killing — including the race of the deceased, the circumstances of the shooting, whether the person was armed and whether the victim was experiencing a mental-health crisis — by culling local news reports, law enforcement websites and social media and by monitoring independent databases such as Killed by Police and Fatal Encounters. The Post conducted additional reporting in many cases.
In 2016, The Post is gathering additional information about each fatal shooting that occurs this year and is filing open-records requests with departments. More than a dozen additional details are being collected about officers in each shooting.
The Post is documenting only those shootings in which a police officer, in the line of duty, shot and killed a civilian — the circumstances that most closely parallel the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., which began the protest movement culminating in Black Lives Matter and an increased focus on police accountability nationwide. The Post is not tracking deaths of people in police custody, fatal shootings by off-duty officers or non-shooting deaths.
The FBI and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention log fatal shootings by police, but officials acknowledge that their data is incomplete. In 2015, The Post documented more than two times more fatal shootings by police than had been recorded by the FBI. Last year, the FBI announced plans to overhaul how it tracks fatal police encounters.
The Post’s database is updated regularly as fatal shootings are reported and as facts emerge about individual cases. The Post is seeking assistance in making the database as comprehensive as possible. To provide information about fatal police shootings since Jan. 1, 2015, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Post is also interested in obtaining photos of the deceased and original videos of fatal encounters with police.
About the data
- W: White, non-Hispanic
- B: Black, non-Hispanic
- A: Asian
- N: Native American
- H: Hispanic
- O: Other
- None: unknown
- M: Male
- F: Female
- None: unknown
The threat_level column was used to flag incidents for the story by Amy Brittain in October 2015. http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/investigative/2015/10/24/on-duty-under-fire/ As described in the story, the general criteria for the attack label was that there was the most direct and immediate threat to life. That would include incidents where officers or others were shot at, threatened with a gun, attacked with other weapons or physical force, etc. The attack category is meant to flag the highest level of threat. The other and undetermined categories represent all remaining cases. Other includes many incidents where officers or others faced significant threats.
The threat column and the fleeing column are not necessarily related. For example, there is an incident in which the suspect is moving away from officers (fleeing) and at the same time turns to fire at gun at the officer. Also, attacks represent a status immediately before fatal shots by police; while fleeing could begin slightly earlier and involve a chase.
body_camera: News reports have indicated an officer was wearing a body camera and it may have recorded some portion of the incident.
Research and Reporting: Julie Tate, Jennifer Jenkins and Steven Rich
Production and Presentation: John Muyskens, Kennedy Elliott and Ted Mellnik