‘It never stops’: killings by US police reach record high in 2022
The Guardian – Sam Levin
Law enforcement killed at least 1,176 people or about 100 people a month last year, making it the deadliest for police violence
Police across the country killed an average of more than three people a day, or nearly 100 people every month last year according to Mapping Police Violence. The non-profit research group maintains a database of reported deaths at the hands of law enforcement, including people fatally shot, beaten, restrained and Tasered.
The preliminary 2022 total – a possible undercount as more cases are catalogued – marks 31 additional fatalities than the year before.
The data release comes two years after the murder of George Floyd sparked national uprisings calling for racial justice, police accountability and reductions in the funding and size of police forces.
“It just never stops,” said Bianca Austin, aunt of Breonna Taylor, whose March 2020 killing in Kentucky sparked mass protests. “There was a movement and uproar across the globe, and we’re still having more killings? What are we doing wrong? It’s so disheartening.”
While the numbers have crept up, the circumstances that precede the killings have remained consistent.
In 2022, 132 killings (11%) were cases in which no offense was alleged; 104 cases (9%) were mental health or welfare checks; 98 (8%) involved traffic violations; and 207 (18%) involved other allegations of nonviolent offenses. There were also 93 cases (8%) involving claims of a domestic disturbance and 128 (11%) where the person was allegedly seen with a weapon. Only 370 (31%) involved a potentially more serious situation, with an alleged violent crime.
“These are routine police encounters that escalate to a killing,” said Samuel Sinyangwe, a data scientist and policy analyst who founded Mapping Police Violence and provided 2022 data to the Guardian. “The reduction in the conversation around police violence does not mean that this issue is going away. What’s clear is that it’s continuing to get worse, and that it’s deeply systemic.”
“Police’s ability to be judge, jury and executioner has been taken to another level. No matter how much we insist that it’s wrong, society allows it to take place,” said Jacob Blake Sr, whose son was shot by Kenosha police and left paralyzed in 2020. Blake Sr and Austin run a group called Families United that assists people whose loved ones have been killed by police.
Despite the national increase in killings, there are some local signs of progress.
“For each of these types of routine encounters, there are solutions and alternative responses that are already being piloted, that are already producing data showing they are dramatically more effective than police,” Sinyangwe said.
“There’s a continual commitment to using violence to control people and manage problems in this country. And as we keep giving police more money and power, we’ll continue to see more police violence.”