The question title says it all. If possible, I'd prefer an answer that includes breakdowns by race, although I'm prepared to accept one that does not.

  • For the purpose of this question, is a person considered 'killed by police' if he had a previous medical condition that became fatal due to the stress of being in prison or after police used a reasonable amount of force to subdue the individual while he was resisting arrest?
    – lazarusL
    Commented Aug 20, 2015 at 2:52
  • That's actually really interesting, I had not considered that the former could be a possibility. I'd say that the latter counts, but former does not. Commented Aug 20, 2015 at 12:13

1 Answer 1


This report states that so far in 2015 among fatal police shootings:

The vast majority of victims — more than 80 percent — were armed with potentially lethal objects, primarily guns, but also knives, machetes, revving vehicles and, in one case, a nail gun.

Here's a bit more information breaking down how they were armed: enter image description here Everything above unknown and undetermined was considered armed with a deadly weapon, including being in a vehicle. This leads to a total of 82.3%.

A breakdown by being armed and by race from the same article reveals that:

About half the victims were white, half minority. But the demographics shifted sharply among the unarmed victims, two-thirds of whom were black or Hispanic.

This report is not federal crime data, but police shootings is not something that the US federal government measures, so finding an alternative source or multi year data might be tricky.

  • 8
    It might be worth noting that these numbers are based on police reports. The police officers who made these reports had an incentive to overstate the danger in which they were to avoid disciplinary actions.
    – Philipp
    Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 20:38
  • 1
    @Philipp the article claims that the data was gathered from "interviews, police reports, local news accounts and other sources," but I definitely agree that this probably isn't gold standard 100% accurate data. Another huge limitation is that it's one analysis from one group of journalists.
    – lazarusL
    Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 20:57
  • 2
    It should also be noted that this refers to shootings--not all killings. This lists roughly 400 deaths by shootings. This source claims there's been nearly twice that many total deaths in 2015, however: killedbypolice.net (still a good answer...just pointing out that shootings are by no means the only cause of death-by-police)
    – user1530
    Commented Aug 20, 2015 at 1:51

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