An analysis by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension revealed that state police officers have shot and killed at least 60 individuals since 2008.
Not surprisingly, the vast majority of those killed by police officers were male, but considering recent events in Ferguson and New York, you may be surprised at the ethnic and demographic breakdown. According to the statistics:
- 95 percent of those killed were male.
- 61 percent were white.
- 26 percent were African American.
- The median age for whites killed by police since 2008 is 36. For African Americans, the median age is only 24.
Additional information from the report delves in to the circumstances surrounding the shooting and the aftermath:
- Drugs, alcohol or mental illness were mentioned in nearly 1/3 of the reports.
- In more than 70 percent of the deaths, police shot a person holding a gun or knife.
- In 30 percent of the cases, the officers reported being shot at.
- More than a quarter of the shootings began when police received a call about a domestic disturbance.
- None of the 87 officers who discharged their firearm in a fatal encounter have faced criminal charges.
The BCA said they sought to uncover even more data, but some stations denied their request, citing privacy laws. David Klinger, a professor of criminology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, said there’s no reason why the public shouldn’t have access to all the fatal shooting data.
“There’s really no logical reason for us not to have that [data],” Klinger said. “We have data on all sorts of other things. Why don’t we have that on what arguably is the most important thing that the government does in terms of inserting them in the lives of citizens — i.e. trying to put a bullet in their body? There’s not much that is more serious than that.”
St. Paul Sees Troubling Numbers
St. Paul had a rather high number of African Americans die at the hands of a police officer over the past six years. According to the report, more than half of the 11 people shot and killed by St. Paul police were African American. The St. Paul department has been involved in more fatal shootings than any other department since 2008.
Jeff Martin, president of the St. Paul branch of the NAACP, said the high number of fatal shootings is very concerning.
“These are the most serious matters that the community is concerned about,” Martin said. “Even the bad actors among us have constitutional rights, and they shouldn’t be shot at without an opportunity to be taken into custody peacefully.”
A study by the American Civil Liberties Union uncovered that African Americans in Minneapolis were 11 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession compared to whites, even though usage rates are similar.
“In the numbers the ACLU put out, you see in terms of low-level drug arrests you get a lot more African-American males searched for marijuana and then ticketed for marijuana possession than whites,” said Chuck Samuelson, executive director of the Minnesota Chapter of the ACLU.
Samuelson believes race certainly plays a factor in some confrontations, but he noted that it doesn’t explain why some interactions turn deadly.
Related source: MPR News