Feb 9, 2022 - Politics & Policy

WashPost: 2021 a record year for fatal police killings

Photo of police standing in uniform in formation during the night

Police keep guard as area residents gather at the site where Minneapolis police officers shot and killed a man on Dec. 30, 2020. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

Police shot and killed at least 1,055 people across the U.S. last year, up from 1,021 in 2020, according to the Washington Post's database of fatal police shootings.

Why it matters: Despite the renewed focus on police brutality and calls for reform, it's the highest number recorded by the Post, which began tracking fatal police shootings in the line of duty in 2015.

  • Police kill Black Americans at much higher rates than white Americans, per the Post's analysis. Over 95% are men and more than half are from 20 to 40 years old.
  • New Mexico, Alaska and Oklahoma see the highest rates of shootings.

Worth noting: The number of total fatal shootings has hovered around 1,000 for years. 2021's total is within 60 of the average.

  • "Probability theory may offer an explanation," the Post notes. "It holds that the quantity of rare events in huge populations tends to remain stable absent major societal changes, such as a fundamental shift in police culture or extreme restrictions on gun ownership."
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