Fatal police shootings of unarmed black men drop more than half in 2016

Data shows that police used fatal force on 16 unarmed black men, compared to 36 in 2015

By Police1 Staff

Recent data released by The Washington Post, shows fatal police shootings of unarmed black men were down in 2016 compared to 2015.  

Data from 2015 found that a total of 36 unarmed black men were fatally shot by police. In 2016, 16 were killed. One unarmed black woman was killed as well.

Law enforcement and others have argued that the anger over police shootings of unarmed black men is excessive given the actual number of such incidents. . 

According to Heather MacDonald, author of “The War on Cops,” the shootings of unarmed black men “is not a national crisis.” She cites FBI data that shows the overall number of black homicide victims in 2015 was approximately 7,000. 

According to data from the Washington Post, police fatally shot 258 black men and women in 2015.  

“We have been having a discussion for the last 20 years of phantom police racism in order to not talk about a far more difficult and uncomfortable reality, and that is the wildly disproportionate levels of black-on-black crime,” MacDonald told Newsweek.

Opal Tometi, cofounder of Black Lives Matter, told the publication last year that crime in black communities doesn’t cancel out police brutality. 

“Critics who raise this type of rhetoric aim to derail a desperately needed conversation about violence and abuse perpetrated by police.”

Law enforcement said that an unarmed person can still pose a threat to officers and the community. In the 2015 Washington Post data, at least five of the unarmed tried to reach for the officer’s gun or beat them with their equipment.

Command staff credit increased and better police training with the decrease in fatal shootings of unarmed black men. 

Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole told the publication that when she joined the department, they began implementing de-escalation training and crisis intervention. 

“No police officer wants to take someone’s life,” she said.

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