Black Americans disproportionately killed by police: report

Black Americans disproportionately killed by police: report

A new investigation shows how "disproportionately" black Americans, who make up just 13 per cent of US' total population, are killed by police and are more than twice as likely to be unarmed when killed during encounters as white people.

A Guardian analysis finds 102 of 464 people killed so far this year in incidents with law enforcement officers were not carrying weapons, and that agencies are killing people at twice the rate calculated by US government.

Also, of the total, an overwhelming majority – 95 per cent – were male, with just 5 per cent female.

A study of public records, local news reports and Guardian reporting found that 32 per cent of black people killed by police in 2015 were unarmed, as were 25 per cent of Hispanic and Latino people, compared with 15 per cent of white people killed.

The statistics include deaths after the police use of a Taser, deaths caused by police vehicles and deaths following altercations in police custody, as well as those killed when officers open fire.

According to the data, 29 per cent of those killed by police, or 135 people, were black. Sixty-seven, or 14 per cent, were Hispanic/Latino, and 234, or 50 per cent, were white. In total, 102 people who died during encounters with law enforcement in 2015 have been unarmed.

"The figures illustrate how disproportionately black Americans, who make up just 13 per cent of the country's total population according to census data, are killed by police," the report said today.

The findings emerged from a database filled by a five- month study of police fatalities in the US, which calculated that local and state police and federal law enforcement agencies are killing people at twice the rate calculated by the US government's official public record of police homicides.

Steven Hawkins, executive director Amnesty International USA, described the racial imbalance as "startling".

Hawkins said: "The disparity speaks to something that needs to be examined, to get to the bottom of why you're twice as likely to be shot if you're an unarmed black male."

"It's troubling that we have no official data from the federal government," said Laurie Robinson, the co-chair of US President Barack Obama's task force on 21st century policing. "I think it's very helpful, in light of that fact, to have this kind of research undertaken."

It was also monitored whether mental health issues were identified, either by family members, friends or police following each fatal encounter. In total 26 per cent of people killed by police exhibited some sort of mental illness, with at least 29 cases identified where the person killed was suicidal.

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