Eye on the Courts: Lack of Reliable Data on Police Killings

Police Shooting

In the past few days of discussion over police-involved shootings, we have seen a lot of claims and counter-claims about numbers—who has been shot, their race, etc. However, based on recent articles I have read, I think we should be skeptical about claims to have an accurate count of police shooting deaths.

For instance, D. Brian Burghart, editor of the Reno News & Review, has been attempting a crowdsourced national database of deadly police violence. Online publication Gawker asked Mr. Burghart what he’s learned from compiling the data. The results are more than a bit disconcerting.

He notes,It began simply enough. Commuting home from my work at Reno’s alt-weekly newspaper, the News & Review, on May 18, 2012, I drove past the aftermath of a police shooting—in this case, that of a man named Jace Herndon. It was a chaotic scene, and I couldn’t help but wonder how often it happened.

“I went home and grabbed my laptop and a glass of wine and tried to find out. I found nothing—a failure I simply chalked up to incompetent local media,” he writes.

He continues, “A few months later I read about the Dec. 6, 2012, killing of a naked and unarmed 18-year-old college student, Gil Collar, by University of South Alabama police. The killing had attracted national coverage—The New York Times, the Associated Press, CNN—but there was still no context being provided—no figures examining how many people are killed by police.”

This began his search to find out how many people have died during interactions with the police. He writes, “Try as I might, I just couldn’t wrap my head around that idea. How was it that, in the 21st century, this data wasn’t being tracked, compiled, and made available to the public? How could journalists know if police were killing too many people in their town if they didn’t have a way to compare to other cities? Hell, how could citizens or police? How could cops possibly know ‘best practices’ for dealing with any fluid situation? They couldn’t.”

This is indeed a disconcerting finding, so of course he decided he would try to build a library of police killing, as he found the absence of such data “offensive.”

It is a continuing project, but he has come to some interesting conclusions. First, he says while he will “never be able to prove” it, he is convinced: “The lack of such a database is intentional.”

He concludes, “No government—not the federal government, and not the thousands of municipalities that give their police forces license to use deadly force—wants you to know how many people it kills and why.”

He adds, “It’s the only conclusion that can be drawn from the evidence.”

“What evidence?” he writes. “In attempting to collect this information, I was lied to and delayed by the FBI, even when I was only trying to find out the addresses of police departments to make public records requests.”

Mr. Burghart has a second conclusion as well – “bad journalism colludes with police to hide this information.”

He writes, “The primary reason for this is that police will cut off information to reporters who tell tales. And a reporter can’t work if he or she can’t talk to sources. It happened to me on almost every level as I advanced this year-long Fatal Encounters series through the News & Review. First they talk; then they stop, then they roadblock.”

We certainly see some of this at the local level. Look how easily the DA’s office is willing to cut off information from reporters who offer a critical viewpoint of their activities.

Mr. Burghart writes, “There are many other ways that bad or sloppy journalism undermines the ability of researchers to gather data on police shootings. Reporters make fundamental errors or typos; they accept police excuses for not releasing names of the dead or the shooters, or don’t publish the decedents’ names even if they’re released; they don’t publish police or coroner’s reports.”

He notes, “Sometimes they don’t show their work: This otherwise excellent St. Louis Post-Dispatch article claims there were 15 fatal shooting cases involving law enforcement agencies between January 2007 to September 30, 2011—but provides few names and dates for further research efforts.”

Mr. Burghart continues, “And that list doesn’t even get into fundamental errors in attitude toward police killing—for example, the tendency of large outlets and wire services to treat killings as local matters, and not worth tracking widely. Even though police brutality is a national crisis.”

And this gets to the point that was raised earlier: “Journalists also don’t generally report the race of the person killed. Why? It’s unethical to report it unless it’s germane to the story. But race is always germane when police kill somebody.”

If everyone who reads this post could pledge just $10 per month, we would meet all financial goals for 2015 and the Vanguard would be fully fiscally viable

Finally, we get to the race card that everyone seems to want to avoid. He writes, “This is the most most heinous thing I’ve learned in my two years compiling Fatal Encounters. You know who dies in the most population-dense areas? Black men. You know who dies in the least population dense areas? Mentally ill men. It’s not to say there aren’t dangerous and desperate criminals killed across the line. But African-Americans and the mentally ill people make up a huge percentage of people killed by police.”

He adds, “And if you want to get down to nut-cuttin’ time, across the board, it’s poor people who are killed by police. (And by the way, around 96 percent of people killed by police are men.)”

Finally Mr. Burghart concludes, “But maybe [the] most important thing I learned is that collecting this information is hard. I still firmly believe that having a large, searchable database will allow us not just better understanding of these incidents, but better training, policies and protocols for police, and consequently fewer dead people and police. But normal people don’t much care about numbers.”

Given this story, I think we should be far more skeptical about the information we have on police killings—I simply do not believe we have good data. The idea that there may be intentional and structural reasons for that poor data is all the more disconcerting.

If the data on police shootings is that poor, use of force complaints—which are not even disclosable public documents in most cases—are even worse.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. South of Davis

    Davis wrote:

    > I simply do not believe we have good data. 

    Closer to home do you think the police have killed anyone in Yolo County without anyone knowing about it (any late night trips to the Yolo Landfill with dead homeless)?

      1. TrueBlueDevil

        Do we have good statistics on the number of citizens killed by gangs every year? And the name of the gangs? Blooods, Crips, M13, KKK, Bulldogs.

        Do we know how many police officers are killed every year?

        Do we know how many citizens are killed by illegal immigrants every year?

        Do we know how many people are killed by drivers high on adderall, various prescription drugs, or marijuana (the number is skyrocketing) every year?

        How many people are killed by soft-on-crime relaxed liberal policing policies?

        If we are after  truthful statistics, let’s get all of them.

  2. Tia Will

     I think we should be far more skeptical about the information we have on police killings, I simply do not believe we have good data. The idea that there may be intentional and structural reasons for that poor data is all the more disconcerting.”

    I am always highly skeptical of “conspiracy theories”. And yet I have a well known model from my field which provides ample evidence that there have been both intentional and structural reasons for hiding medical malpractice cases in the past. My field also provides evidence that this is not inevitable and that changes can and must be made in order to improve outcomes.

    Thirty years ago, it was common individual and institutional practice to hide medical mistakes rather than admitting to them and using them as an opportunity for individual skills improvement and as a means of reduction of systems errors. There were many reasons for this. There was a mistaken belief that admission of error would lead to more lawsuits. In fact, admission of error,apology,  full explanation and the assurance that adverse consequences will be treated without charge and that the learnings will be used to prevent future similar errors are all that most people want. 

    A second mistaken belief was that “punishing” the person identified as most responsible for the error was an effective strategy for error reduction. This is only true if the “error” is due to impairment and the “punishment” is relief from duties until rehabilitation has occurred. This is true only in the extreme minority of cases. What actually works is re-education as needed for the individual, and a close examination of the systems and processes that contributed in order to make the faulty decision making less likely to occur in the future. 

    I believe that just as the medical field has been dragged kicking and screaming into acceptance of a better model for error prevention, it is time for citizens to start holding their police accountable for improving their processes starting with a model of transparency and full disclosure. If doctors are a fitting example, it will take a lot of public pressure over a prolonged period of time for these changes to occur. But there is no time like the present to get started.



  3. zaqzaq


    If a doctor is grossly negligent or negligent in the treatment of a patient directly resulting in the death of the patient should they be criminally charged with manslaughter?

    1. Tia Will

      If a doctor is grossly negligent or negligent in the treatment of a patient directly resulting in the death of the patient should they be criminally charged with manslaughter?”

      My answer would be a little more nuanced than that of DP. It would depend on what your mean by negligence. If you mean a knowing and deliberate action such as operating while inebriated, or doing a procedure for which you are not trained then yes. If you mean negligence in the form of forgetting to check a lab, or making a surgical error under duress, then most likely not.


      1. zaqzaq


        How is a doctor who fails to check a lab or makes a negligent surgical error under duress any different than Officer Wilson when he shot and killed Mike Brown?  Wilson has a gun and a doctor has a scalpel or medication.  This assumes Wilson was negligent which I do not concede.  Doctors make negligent errors and are not prosecuted, at least I cannot recall one that was.  They have medical review boards to look at what went wrong.  Should these boards be mandatory reporters to law enforcement when a doctor negligently kills a patient?  Should they have the cases going before a grand jury?  Should a doctor who amputates the wrong leg be charged with battery with serious bodily injury and sent to prison?

  4. Frankly

    I would be fine to support legislation that establishes a requirement for all law enforcement agencies to report on certain law enforcement statistics.  I would also be fine having the federal government provide some state funding for this as a condition of compliance with the reporting requirements.

    But I remain convinced that the current media-frenzy on law enforcement and incidents including racial criteria is part of a behind-the-scenes move by Democrats to create a smoke-screen for their political failures and to gin up voter anger that they can leverage.   The divide-and-conquer strategy of the Democrats is seemingly all they have.

    1. Davis Progressive

      this is really where i think you’re views color your analysis.  you need to really understand the difference between the activists and party operators – they are not the same.  in this case, the activists are wagging the operators who are trying to catch up while still appearing moderate rather than the other way around.  the people for the most part in the streets are not voters, they’re disenfranchised.

      1. Frankly

        Look to see who has been invited to the White House since the Democrats got pounded in the last election.

        Activists and party operators are joined at the hip.  In fact, they are almost one-in-the-same for the modern Democrat party.

    2. TrueBlueDevil

      I agree. And garbage in, garbage out. I’ll bet $100 that the Bosnian man killed by a group of young people of color, won’t be classified as a hate crime.

      Obama says he wants to allow law abiding, hard working illegal immigrants to gain a path to citizenship, and then he releases 30,000 illegal immigrants convicted of crimes. What they say, and what they actually do are often far, far different. Then again, we have Al Sharpton and La Raza in the White House.

    3. Robert Canning

      No need for legislation.

      The Centers for Disease Control already counts deaths due to “legal intervention.” They are reported via the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) and you can also look at yearly numbers at the CDC’s interactive WISQARS. The definition is: “injuries inflicted by the police or other law-enforcing agents, including military on duty, in the course of arresting or attempting to arrest lawbreakers, suppressing disturbances, maintaining order, and other legal actions. Excludes injuries caused by civil insurrections.” (see http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/wisqars/fatal/help/definitions.htm#mortality).  The NVDRS reports also appear in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly, which is on the web. 

      Of course if one wants more than numbers, that’s a different story. The Bureau of Justice Statistics produces reports on officer/custody-involved deaths: http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=tp&tid=82.

      For instance: “The ARD program is a national collection of persons who die in the custody or under the restraint of state or local law enforcement personnel. Deaths are  reportable to the program without considering whether physical custody had been established or whether a formal arrest process had been initiated prior to the time of death. The ARD collection also includes the deaths of persons attempting to elude law enforcement during the course of apprehension.

      Over the years 2003 to 2009 36% of arrest-related deaths were of Black people, 17% Hispanic, and 30% white persons.


      1. tj

        Dr. Canning  —

        The New York Times reported several months ago that there are no complete statistics for police kills, so your info is quite interesting!

        Does the CDC receive info on ALL cases in which law enforcement kills someone, and are CDC’s statistics broken down by city or county?

        Where or how does the NVDRS get its information?  The NYT reported that the FBI compiles statistics in certain areas of concern, but reporting of fatal law enforcement encounters is not required.

        1. Robert Canning

          tj – WISQARS – the interactive system that produces reports on causes of fatal injury is part of the Injury Control section of CDC (as is the NVDRS). The data comes from the national death registry which gets data from death certificates, which in turn comes from medical examiners, coroners, and physicians. The data is categorized using ICD-9 – an international classification of disease and injury. The NVDRS is a consortium of 32 states (California is not one of them at this time) that supplies even more data about violent deaths. The sources are similar but the follow-up is more in-depth.

          The BJS collects a variety of data about criminal justice topics and publishes reports. For instance the report I cited above. They also take part in the National Crime Victimization Survey which is a nationally representative survey of Americans 16 years and older. There is lots of data and info on their website.

        2. Robert Canning

          I have not looked closer at the death data – beyond the state level – which the CDC reports. The California Dept. of Public Health publishes data on California deaths but I have not used it much so can’t answer that question.

          The BJS report on arrest-related deaths notes that it is an undercount since not all jurisdictions report. I believe it is voluntary reporting, but I am not sure.

    4. Robb Davis

      So what about the foreign press?  Are they just part of the “media frenzy?”  I always like to go there to get an outside-looking-in perspective on national events.  I recommend The Economist article (may not need a subscription to view one article):


      One quote:

      Ferguson’s political institutions have not kept up with its demography. Of the city’s six-member council, five are white. The hapless mayor, James Knowles, is a white Republican who was re-elected in 2013 in an election in which fewer than one in eight eligible voters turned out. He is in charge of the police force, in which three out of 53 officers are black. Such disparities feed the belief—held by blacks across the country—that both justice and law-enforcement systems are racist.

      Police brutality reinforces that belief. If there was one lesson from the attack on Rodney King, it was that police officers should behave like civilians, not an occupying army. Around 500 people were killed last year by the police—though since nobody counts, nobody really knows.

      In Ferguson, bad policies help to explain why distrust turns to anger. Take, for example, the way the town is financed. In 2013 a fifth of Ferguson’s general revenues—some $2.6m, in a city of 21,000 people—were derived from fines and asset confiscation. That is equivalent to $124 a year for every man, woman and child in the city. Paying fines, even for minor traffic offences, can involve queuing for hours. Those who miss court dates can be jailed until they pay, accumulating more fines along the way. Slowly but surely, the justice system has become an elaborate mechanism for criminalising poverty.

      1. Barack Palin

        Of the city’s six-member council, five are white.

        The people of Ferguson voted for them.  In Davis, of the city’s 5 member council, all 5 are white.

        That is equivalent to $124 a year for every man, woman and child in the city.

        I wonder what that amount is in Davis?  I know I paid a $150 seat belt ticket and @ a $45 parking ticket this last year in Davis.   My son had a cop hiding on the Covell overpass between the trees near F St. and received a $450 speeding ticket.  My wife got a ticket getting off the freeway on Richard’s when she veered to the right slightly on the shoulder to make a right turn and that cost @$300.  That day she said the cop pulled over a whole line of cars doing the same thing.  So if my family is any indication Davis is also doing quite well in the fine department.

        1. Robb Davis

          So, my quick and dirty calculations based on last year’s budget is that fines and forfeitures make up 1.43% of our City’s General fund revenue.  That compares to Ferguson where the figure is 20%.

  5. LadyNewkBalm

    “Finally, we get to the race card that everyone seems to want to avoid.”


    What everyone wants to avoid? or what david greenwald wants to inject into every facet of everyones thought processes

        1. TrueBlueDevil

          DP – first, you don’t start with the reckless speculation that something is “racist” when there appears to be no obvious, public evidence pointing to that. Because the media likes the ratings, and the race merchants like to yammer, isn’t a factual basis from which to start.

          Gather pertinent facts from every possible viewpoint.

          Third, assess how a black female police sergeant, at the scene of the crime, supervising, is racist for telling patrol officers how to proceed.

    1. Davis Progressive

      you seem to be personalizing this a bit, don’t you think?  it’s not like david’s the only one who believes there is a racial component to these incidents?

      missed in this is that the narrative of black men being killed by police officers should be augmented with the mentally ill component, which of course raises the issue of the gentleman who asphyxiated after being tasered outside of a local mental health facility.

  6. Anon

    Interesting article about crappy journalism from The Verge:

    Rolling Stone just wrecked an incredible year of progress for rape victims
    Rolling Stone flunks Reporting 101 and rape victims are going to have a worse time because of it

    By Arielle Duhaime-Ross
    on December 5, 2014 06:47 pm


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    (Rolling Stone )

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    2014 was an incredible year for discussions about consent and rape. Street harassment, sexism, and rape on campus came to the forefront of our shared conversation through social media, protests, and all forms of journalism. And it worked. People who otherwise would never have talked about rape culture engaged in the conversation. I’ve never heard so many men use the word “consent.” It doesn’t matter that the discussions were polarizing, or that many continue to debate rape culture’s existence. The discussion happened, and it’s largely because women used the power of the internet to make it so.
    That’s why today’s admission by Rolling Stonethat a spine-chilling account of a rape at the University of Virginia may not have been entirely factual is so upsetting. Instead of owning up to an incredible number of unforgivable reporting mistakes, a magazine that I once respected professionally decided to blame the victim. Worse, Rolling Stone did it by explaining that their reporters and editors skipped some crucial reporting steps to try to prevent victim-blaming from happening in the first place:

    In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie’s account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced. We were trying to be sensitive to the unfair shame and humiliation many women feel after a sexual assault and now regret the decision to not contact the alleged assaulters to get their account.

    Rolling Stone‘s original story of Jackie’s rape at the University of Virginia was terrifying. According to the article, she was gang-raped at a frat party after her date took her up to a room full of fraternity members. But according to The Washington Post‘s investigationof Jackie’s story, both the article’s author Sabrina Rubin Erdely and Rolling Stone‘s fact-checkers failed to verify if a party had taken place on the day she said the rape happened. Moreover, Jackie said that her date was a member of the fraternity throwing the party — a fact that The Washington Post says is false. (The Washington Post’s own story originally contained a large error as well: it said that Jackie had never met the man in question. But that claim only came from the man himself, and it was later removed from the Post‘s article since it can’t be verified.) Rolling Stone failed to check both these facts.
    Finally, as Vox‘s Sarah Kliff points out, Jackie told The Washington Post that Erdely andRolling Stone decided to go ahead and print the story even though she wanted to be taken out. If that’s true, Rolling Stone made a grave mistake, because “a story where the main source tried to back out and the other participants were never interviewed is not a solid story,” Kliff writes.

    It’s possible that Jackie’s story is fabricated. It’s also possible that some parts of her story are true while others aren’t. But it’s also possible that she was raped by multiple men. And her misrepresentation of certain parts of her story may or may not be her fault. Victims of rape experience a kind of trauma that’s hard to imagine for anyone who’s never experienced it; sometimes their minds act protectively by blocking memories out. Finally, as Gabriel Dante pointed out to me on Twitter, Jackie may also have altered some facts to ensure that she wasn’t identified by readers once the story was published. But none of that matters. The problem here is not Jackie — it’s Rolling Stone.
    From a journalistic standpoint, it would not have been a stretch to check if the party had actually taken place. It would not have been a stretch to check if the man Jackie said was egging her rapists on was a member of the fraternity. All of this could have taken place without actually talking to the perpetrators — interviews that Erdely insists were intentionally left out of her reporting because Jackie asked her not to speak to her alleged rapists, and because her story looked solid.
    If Erdely had checked these plot points early on, it’s possible that doing so would have halted her reporting altogether. But because those basic reporting steps didn’t take place, the credibility of rape victims will be put into question for years to come. And all the incredibly difficult discussions that have taken place over the past year — discussions that gave me hope — are now at risk.
    Erdely spoke eloquently about her Rolling Stonepiece on Brian Lehrer’s radio show in late November. During the show, Erdely responded to a caller who claimed that rape reports are often unfounded — she said “that’s actually categorically not true,” and she’s right. On average, Erdely says, only 8 to 10 percent of rape reports are false, which means that something like “92 percent of them are actually true.” But because she published a sloppy story that is at least partially incorrect, Erdely and Rolling Stone will help perpetuate the dangerous and damaging myth that women lie about rape.
    I’d like to think that Rolling Stone isn’t powerful enough to walk back the strides we’ve made in talking about rape and consent this year. I’m hoping that the next few weeks will show that the American public knows who to blame in this fiasco. (Hint: it’s Rolling Stone, by managing editor Will Dana’s own admission). But the truth is that victim-blaming is America’s favorite pastime. The families of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Eric Garner know that all too well. And now, because Rolling Stone failed as a news organization and then made things worse with a terribly vague, accusatory, and hypocritical “note” of concern, Jackie and the thousands of women who suffer sexual assault each year will likely be put through hell.
    Update 12/7: Rolling Stone has, as of Saturday, updated the language of its note to readers, taking full responsibility for its incomplete reporting and acknowledging the subsequent reporting done by The Washington Post. The note now adds, “These mistakes are on Rolling Stone, not on Jackie.” The original piece has not been updated or corrected.”

        1. Barack Palin

          Yes Anon, I heard that story this morning.  Unbelievable, it looks like Rolling Stone ran with it without checking any facts.  Sounds like what we’re dealing with on the Brown case, we had the race baiters running with that story as well before all was known.

        2. TrueBlueDevil

          Lena Dunham also has a top selling book where she claims to have been raped by a college Republican, who she identifies in precise detail.

          Breitbart News went to her former college, Oberlain College, and tried to corroborate the facts and individuals in Not That Kind of Girl, and could not. The former Republican student is now considering filing a lawsuit against the author.



        3. Davis Progressive

          as i read the issue – rolling stone got the interview on the condition that they not approach the accused purportedly because the woman feared retaliation.  they agreed.  then as they reviewed the case, discrepencies began to appear.  a lot of mistakes were made clear and a good illustration as to why you need to talk to the accused.

        1. hpierce

          Tia, did that video, in any way, excuse the use of excessive force AGAINST a FEMALE police officer, who may have been pregnant, in YOUR view?

          Or, was that a “righteous” use of force against the ‘pervasive’ “tendency” of police against ANY citizen?  Pre-emptive strike”?

          That force used on Staten Island APPEARS to be flat-out wrong.  You seem to say that the video exemplifies justified behavior, as you contrast it against unjustifiable behavior.

          Sorry, this is not a ‘black and white issue’.  Police or civilian, there are those who behave VERY badly.  They need to be removed from society until we know how to “fix” them.  Perhaps “fix” is an answer for those who oppose life imprisonment or the death penalty.  Not that sure that Dorthea Puente could be “fixed”, but as Tia has pointed out, I am no expert on anatomy.  Maybe she was a victim of PMS (P for ‘post’), and didn’t have the benefit of a knowlegable, caring OB-GYN professional.

  7. TrueBlueDevil

    David writes: “Finally, we get to the race card that everyone seems to want to avoid.” What? There have been numerous articles here on racism, and there are numerous posters who who jump to this conclusion at the drop of a hat. Take the Staten Island case, which I think is a travesty. I think the police procedures are horrible (I see eye to eye here with David); I think the EMT response may have been horrendous; but I haven’t yet heard evidence that suggests racism was a driving force. But I have a theory that will be somewhat novel – I think the size issue was a major factor. There were two primary cops here who may have a bit of a Napolean Complex, and here is a large, peaceful man telling them he isn’t happy with their actions. If he was 5’4″ and 150 pounds, would they have taken him to the sidewalk, and laid across him?

    I agree, police statistics aren’t perfect. The SFPD union has fought updating their software tracking system for at least 10 years.

    I read these statistics this morning in the New York Post: ““…Social psychologist Lorie Fridell is credited with pioneering the “unconscious bias” theory in policing. … While she admits the link between blacks and crime is statistically strong — African-Americans commit 53% of all murders and are 10 times more likely to commit violent crimes than whites — she trains cops to resist that “stereotype.” ”

    The sad thing is that Eric Holder’s consent decree in Seattle appears to have caused a spike in crime, and police across the US are having their hands severely tied because of the theories of Ms. Fridell. We’ve tried these theories in the past, crime skyrocketed under Mayor Dinkins, and murder and other violent crimes dropped by over 50% when tougher policing tactics were installed.


    1. hpierce

      A morbidly obese man (obviously a victim of too many sugary drinks), is being persecuted by police for being a victim of sugary drinks?  Do you look at your own posts, Tia?

  8. TrueBlueDevil

    BTW, I am no shill for the police. I believe Jeff Adachi (sp?) of San Francisco just got convictions for multiple felonies on two San Francisco police officers, and 2-3 more officers await trail on the same general group of crimes. They may be serving long prison sentences. In these cases, I believe they were convicted of stealing drug money from local dealers, and stealing property.

  9. Frankly

    Related to the Eric Gardner incident…

    The black female sergeant, Kizzy Adoni, on scene supervising the officer that put the chokehold on the suspect, said she “believed she heard” Garner say he was having difficulty breathing.  She and the officer both agreed that Gardner’s condition did not seem serious and he did not appear to get worse.

    That’s right.  The officer was supervised by a black female.  So I guess this is a black-black gender bias issue.

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      Ouch. I’m sure the emotion-based crowd won’t care.

      I do agree with David that there are some cases where police need different procedures, more nuance, more options than a gun, or laying on an already morbidly obese, struggling to breathe victim. But this isn’t an argument about race, but police tactics.

      Now, the ER staff… did they really stand there for 5 minutes and not render aid? If so, there is an issue. I thought medical personnel would always do some kind of a basic health check, especially given his assertions that he could not breathe!

      And they continue to ignore the white young man killed at 7/11 by a black officer. Hypocrisy?

      1. Tia Will


        And they continue to ignore the white young man killed at 7/11 by a black officer. Hypocrisy?”

        Seems to me like there is room to consider “hypocrisy” on both sides here. I do not see how anyone can maintain that there is no racism involved in the killing of a black man by a white officer, but then seem to support the notion that there is racism involved in the killing of a white man by a black officer.  I think that it is up to those making the assertion to demonstrate how they believe that race played a role in each individual circumstance, but with consideration of the totality of circumstances, not just the factors one wants to pick to support their already established position.

        Yes there are those who see “racism” in virtually every injustice that involves people of different races. They are equally matched by those who will deny that “racism” could ever be involved in anything, and that it is all just a political ploy.

        I think both extremist positions are equally ridiculous.


  10. Miwok

    National Database? Well as a sometime database guy, I thought we could glean the information from the press, but you have scotched that. Then I thought we could catch all the obits, except for Chicago because no one ever dies there. You read the papers about all the deaths in Philly, but like Chicago, they keep voting and collecting SSI checks.

    Darn, this is getting hard. How about Police files? They should have records of officer-involved shootings, right? Compare that to obits? Journalists should be all over this, but many of them are not really journalists any more. Read the pablum coming out of American press, and you see why, including the misspellings and grammar errors common to foreign ESL students.

    More than one comment is correct in saying any challenge to authority means no more news from them. SEE White House.

  11. WesC

    I think that the number of police shootings should be a surprise to no one and is actually quite low given the gun worshiping society we have created.  With 90 guns per 100 residents, and 37% of all household having at least one firearm is anyone surprised that that some law enforcement officers seem to be a little quick to pull the trigger?   As of 2009  there were approx 310 million firearms in the USA: 114 million handguns, 110 million rifles, and 86 million shotguns.  The AR-15 is the auto loading rifle that Adam Lanza used at Sandy Hook and is the civilian of the military M-16 assault rifle. It’s one of the most popular assault -style rifles on the market today, and it is estimated that there are nearly 4 million  of these in the hands of civilians in this country.  It is also estimated that there are about 800,000 Ruger Mini-14 rifles-the rifle that Anders Behring Brevik used in the Oslo summer camp shootings in the hand of the citizenry.   These are only 2 of the many models of this type of assault rifle on the market.

    1. Robert Canning

      As usual, the data is only as good as the reporting agencies. It comes from coroners, physicians, and medical examiners who classify the manner and cause of death. There is a FAQ on WISQARS at http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/wisqars/fatal/help/faq.htm.

      tj asked about county-level data. It is here: http://wonder.cdc.gov/

    2. Robert Canning

      The BJS data is incomplete and they state it is an undercount due to incomplete reporting. The CDC data is probably more complete because I believe that death certificates have to be reported. The actual manner and cause of death is often debatable (suicide as a cause of death, for instance, is often suppressed) so those counts may not be completely accurate.

      1. tribeUSA

        RC–thanks for the qualification; perhaps the data is good as a preliminary indicator; but needs to be completed and quality-checked. Given the ongoing inflammatory national discussions and street protests re: racially biased policing and use of force, I’m surprised some agency or institution has not collected a rigorous and complete set of data on this topic. Of course it would need to be collected and analyzed/classified by a neutral third party without a political axe to grind and not subject to political pressure; which could be pretty difficult, but nonetheless do-able.

  12. Tia Will


    Tia, did that video, in any way, excuse the use of excessive force AGAINST a FEMALE police officer, who may have been pregnant, in YOUR view?”

    No, and I made no such claim nor did I  post the video as though it were providing some insight into the current discussion on the use of excess force by the police.  I simply do not see a single graphic example of force against an officer as relevant to the issue at hand. Is the poster trying to justify the use of excessive force by police by demonstrating that others also use excessive force ? In my view, inexcusable behavior on the part of one individual does not justify the same behavior in another.

    As you probably already know, since you have responded to some of them, I have posted my abhorrence of violence in virtually all situations. There are very few times in my opinion in which the better course of action for both civilians and police would be to employ an escape or wait for back up strategy than to attack.

    And I have some questions for you. What is it in any of my posts that makes you feel the need to “shout” at me electronically ? Why is it that you not infrequently choose to bring pregnancy and abortion into very peripherally if at all related conversations as though you are making some relevant point ?

    1. sisterhood

      What is it in any of my posts that makes you feel the need to “shout” at me electronically ? Why is it that you not infrequently choose to bring pregnancy and abortion into very peripherally if at all related conversations as though you are making some relevant point ?

      Stop reading his posts, like I did! No substance, just vitriol. I’d say he has anger issues, from what I remember when I used to read his nonsense. Kind of a scary individual.

      Really, you’ll enjoy the Vanguard more if you just ostracize him.

  13. Tia Will


    It is precisely because hpierce has and often shares information and insights that I do not have that I continue to read. While my preference is for a calm, reasoned post discussing ideas relevant to the topic, I fully recognize that when I am passionate on a topic, I am as likely to veer off as are most other posters. I strongly defend everyone’s right to express themselves in their own manner, and each poster’s right to object or question when they feel that they are being singled out for a particularly nasty attack based on dislike of one’s position, or in this case, ignorance of one’s position in repetitively bringing up pregnancy and abortion in posts on unrelated articles.


  14. sisterhood


    I guess the usual suspects will say it’s ok for a 14 year old black child to be handcuffed, thrown in the back of a squad car, while her mom is threatened and her brother lies dying from a gunshot wound. But it isn’t racial…

    And if the 911 operator was told twice that the gun the child was using might be fake, and she/he didn’t relay that info, they should be sued and fired.

  15. Tia Will


    And if the 911 operator was told twice that the gun the child was using might be fake, and she/he didn’t relay that info, they should be sued and fired.”

    This is actually a complicated systems error with plenty of blame to go around. If this was a simple error in the omission of critical information, then I do not believe that this would be grounds for our societal default to identify an individual to vilify and then punish them. It is interesting to me, that what was quoted on one source was the officer’s question about the boy “is he black or white” ?  I am wondering if the officers also asked for an age estimate or other pertinent identifiers or if this was their only question. If so it would seem that a lot of coaching and counseling would be warranted on the part of both dispatch and the responding officers.

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