13 April, 2021

Fatal police encounters

icon police,policing,racism
Fatal police interactions are more likely to end up in the deaths of Blacks and Hispanics than White Americans.

“He said they pulled him over because he had air fresheners hanging from his rearview mirror,” said Ms. Wright whose son, Daunte Wright was killed by the police.

Ten miles away prosecutors completed the questioning of their witnesses in the trial of Mr. Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with murdering George Floyd." - NYT

How many times have people died recently in police encounters? How many of them were black? How old were they? What happened? Where and when did it happen? Who are the responsible law makers? How can they be contacted to demand police reform?

This map highlights the scourge of deaths at the hands of law enforcement officials paid to serve and protect the public, and the politicians blocking reforms that could save lives. The map includes 2,567 deaths from January 2020 to March 2021. DemLabs with help from Roy Miller III at esri, created the map with ArcGIS Online using data freely available from Fatal Encounters.

People killed in police interactions

Fatal police encounters are more likely to result in Black and Brown deaths than White Americans dying.

Fatal Encounters

“The nation’s leading law enforcement agency [FBI] collects vast amounts of information on crime nationwide, but missing from this clearinghouse are statistics on where, how often, and under what circumstances police use deadly force. In fact, no one anywhere comprehensively tracks the most significant act police can do in the line of duty: take a life.” - Las Vegas Review.

Fatal Encounters is a non-profit founded by D. Brian Burghart upon the premise that Americans should have the ability to track that act. It provides a national database of people killed during interactions with police which was used to create this map. 

"I’ve created this resource because I believe in a democracy, citizens should be able to figure out how many people are killed during interactions with law enforcement, why they were killed, and whether training and policies can be modified to decrease the number of officer-involved deaths", said Brian.

Controls let you control the animation speed, bookmark to an incident and share the map with others or embed it in a website.

What is a map bookmark?

ArcGIS Online maps allow for bookmarks. These shortcuts to let users to zoom in and go directly to an incident and get all the details of an incident including:
- Where and when it took place
- Details of the incident
- The congressional district and elected officials
- Links to relevant news articles and videos

Fatal police encounters cause more Black deaths

Enough 'Thoughts & prayers'

Political cowardice blocks reform to policing that could save lives

Police reforms that could save lives and improve are being blocked by politicians who offer 'thoughts and prayers' after every incident. This map overlays incident details with the congressional district, its representative and the senators responsible for representing its residents. There are links to contact the congressperson and senators.

“Thoughts and prayers” are hypocritical––and blasphemous––in the mouths of the political gun nuts who would rather see thousands die than threaten the obscene profits of weapons manufacturers. - HuffPo

Judge, jury and executioners

"In the three weeks of Chauvin’s trial, the former officer’s defenders have noted that there was fentanyl in Floyd’s blood, and suggested he expired not because of the knee on his neck but because he abused opioids. After Wright’s death, those defending the police officer who shot him argued that Wright had brought the deadly outcome on himself by resisting arrest. But here’s the thing: Mr. Floyd and Mr. Wright are not on trial. Whether they abused drugs, or passed bad bills, or did something that warranted arrest, or did all of those things or none of them simply does not matter. They are not on trial.

What is on trial is the fundamental American principle of equality before the law. Our law enforcement officers are supposed to use the force of the state to deliver suspected lawbreakers to our criminal justice system. And yet, in both of these cases—and so many others in which a Black person has died at the hands of police—the officers apparently killed suspected offenders instead of delivering them to the legal system guaranteed under our Constitution. Individual police officers appear to have taken the law into their own hands and become judge, jury, and executioner." - Heather Cox Richardson in Letters From An American

Racist policing policies

Racist policing policies result in more Black American deaths at the hand of police.

Pew Research
- Majorities of both black and white Americans say black people are treated less fairly than whites in dealing with the police and by the criminal justice system as a whole.
- Black adults are about five times as likely as whites to say they’ve been unfairly stopped by police because of their race or ethnicity.
- Nearly two-thirds of black adults (65%) say they’ve been in situations where people acted as if they were suspicious of them because of their race or ethnicity, while only a quarter of white adults say that’s happened to them.
- 60% of the public called such incidents signs of broader problems between police and black people.

Takeaway: Make it easier for people to get the facts on fatal police encounters and demand their elected officials support reform.

Use time-based, interactive maps to mobilize support. Contact DemLabs for pro bono help with projects related to social justice and voting rights.


Image credit: Political Cartoons

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