The recent violence between the black community and police officers has raised questions about how often these kinds of incidents happen.
There’s plenty of statistics about the number of officers killed in the line of duty every year. However, there is no federal agency that keeps track of the deadly use of force by police.
In 2015, 41 police officers were murdered while on the job, according to the latest records by the FBI. That’s about a 20 percent decrease compared to the previous year when 51 officers were killed.
Little is known about how many Americans are killed in police shootings, but many of the incidents are making headlines around the country.
“That’s what we hear about, and so our perception is that this is happening all the time,” said Bill Sousa, the Director of Center for Crime and Justice Policy at UNLV.
In a number of high profile cases, police officers have faced criminal charges, but a conviction is rare, Sousa said. During the early part of 2016, a New York City Police officer was found guilty of manslaughter in the shooting death of a black man, but he doesn’t have to serve prison time. Instead, the judge sentenced him to community service and probation.
“The overwhelming majority of the time when officers use deadly force, they are justified in using deadly force,” Sousa said.
Despite compromising cell phone video evidence, Sousa says the number one defense is a split second decision. He says it will show that “the officer was justified in using the firearm because the subject has a weapon or firearm or is threatening the officer’s life or the life of someone.”
National newspapers have recently started doing research on police killings, and according to data gathered by the Guardian, in 2015, more than 1,100 people were killed by police officers. About 300 of the people killed were black, and about 215 of them had a weapon.
Sousa believes deadly police confrontations can be prevented before police officers draw their guns.
“The questions becomes can there be training to the extent that helps to de-escalate situations, so officers don’t have to rely on making that decision,” Sousa said?
In Las Vegas, Metro has had six officer-involved shootings so far this year. That’s low compared to the stats this time last year.
One of the officer-involved shootings was deadly.