A Breakdown of Police use of Fatal Force in 2016

The Washington Post has published a page detailing how many people have been shot and killed by police in 2016. The data is pulled from news reports, public records, social media and other sources and is automatically updated. They have also made the file containing the details of each person killed by police available to the public.

I downloaded the file and thought I would offer a breakdown of the some the data, hoping to get a better view of what’s happening. It’s better to do this than to just say that police shot and killed 500 people this year, because, while it is important, it doesn’t tell the full story.

As of 10:00 am Eastern, there were 505 people who were shot and killed by police in 2016.

With that, here’s a breakdown.

Threat Level

The file listed three options for threat level: attack, other, undetermined. I am assuming this is the threat level directed toward police or others. With that in mind, here are the stats:

  1. Other/Undetermined: 231 or 45.7% (I grouped these together because “other” is non-descriptive. Undetermined totaled 29, while Other totaled 202)
  2. Attack: 274 or 54.3%


The file listed three options for whether the person shot was armed or unarmed. Those options are Armed, Unarmed, and Undetermined.

  1. Armed: 440 or 87%
  2. Unarmed or Undetermined: 65 or 13%

Mental Illness

The file listed two options for signs of mental illness: True or False.

  1. True: 120 or 23.76%
  2. False: 385 or 76.23%


The file listed several options for race: A,B,H,N,O,W, Blank. Here is the breakdown:

  1. White: 235 or 46.5%
  2. B(lack?): 122 or 24.15 %
  3. H(ispanic?): 79 or 15.64%

This number totals 436, leaving 69 for other races (A,N,O,Blank)


The file listed two genders: Male and Female (M or F)

  1. Female: 24 or 4.75%
  2. Male: 481 or  95.25%


Here are the state totals. The states with the most fatalities from police shoots were:

CA 63
TX 45
FL 33
AZ 22

This total is 163 or 32.27%

Here’s the break down by state.

AK 4
AL 15
AR 7
AZ 22
CA 63
CO 18
CT 3
DC 3
DE 1
FL 33
GA 16
HI 4
IA 3
ID 3
IL 15
IN 7
KS 4
KY 9
LA 10
MA 8
MD 7
ME 1
MI 6
MN 6
MO 14
MS 7
MT 3
NC 17
ND 1
NE 4
NH 1
NJ 4
NM 14
NV 6
NY 10
OH 11
OK 9
OR 9
PA 12
RI 2
SC 7
SD 4
TN 11
TX 45
UT 4
VA 13
VT 1
WA 12
WI 11
WV 5

David has been a systems thinker most of his life. He has started three businesses as well as designed and developed systems and processes in existing organizations. He has a Doctorate in Leadership and has also done additional post-graduate work in communications.

He has also pastored 3 churches and loves to think about, write about and podcast about scripture, theology, and leadership.

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