By Catherine Potente
WASHINGTON D.C. – Although a federal program here is being cut off for similar collection efforts, according to data collected by Mapping Police Violence, 1,134 killings by police occurred in 2021, a total greater than previous years.
Mapping Police Violence created a public accounting of police violence in 2021 with information collected from various sources, such as media reports, public records, databases, and obituaries.
However, according to Mapping Police Violence, the federal government’s Use of Force Data Collection program will shut down in 2022 due to the lack of data reported to the program by the nation’s law enforcement.
Mapping Violence Police’s findings showed that of the 1,134 people killed by police, 97 percent of them were killed by police shootings.
“Most killings began with police responding to suspected non-violent offenses or cases where no crime was reported. 117 people were killed after police stopped them for a traffic violation,” the MPV report noted. Police officers were identified in 434 cases, but police officers were charged in only one percent of all killings.
Police enforced traffic violations include expired tags or tinted windows. The City of Berkeley aimed to restrict this enforcement with a new policy that was enacted in February 2021. This policy reduced the number of equipment violation stops, but overall traffic enforcement did not change.
In many areas, there has been a push for programs to send mental health providers to respond to mental health related 911 reports instead of police officers, due to 104 people being killed by police after erratic behavior was reported, said MPV.
The report names a few programs involved in this push, including the CAHOOTS Program based in Eugene, OR, which responds to 40 percent of mental health calls throughout the city and the Street Crisis Response Team in San Francisco, which responds to a 10 percent of mental health related calls citywide.
Of the total number of police killings, Black people were disproportionately killed. This data is observed year after year, 2021 being no exception, said MPV.
“Most unarmed people were people of color. Black people were more likely to be killed by police, more likely to be unarmed and less likely to be threatening someone when killed,” reported Mapping Police Violence.
This disproportionality is also observed when police are charged with crimes. Data showed that officers being charged with crimes are disproportionately prosecuted by Black prosecutors, especially women.
According to Mapping Police Violence, “Representing only one percent of the nation’s elected prosecutors, Black women were nine percent of prosecutors who charged officers for killing someone, 13 percent of prosecutors convicting officers and 20 percent of prosecutors charging officers in two or more deadly force incidents from 2013-2021.”
In many of the police killings in 2021, 55 people had a vehicle as a weapon, while 49 of those killings occurred when the police officers shot at a moving vehicle.
A police officer shooting someone in a moving vehicle is seen as dangerous because killing the driver would make the vehicle uncontrollable, creating a possible harm to the public.
Despite suggestions from experts, law enforcement groups, and the US Department of Justice to ban police from shooting at people in moving vehicles, many police departments still allow officers to do this, noted MPV’s analysis.
Mapping Police Violence reported that 161 people of the total killings were armed with a knife and half of those killings involved a person reportedly armed with a gun. However, when they were killed, one in eight of those people were not threatening anyone.
According to Mapping Police Violence, a little more than 50 percent of the police killings in 2021 involved, “traffic stops, police responses to mental health crises, or situations where the person was not reportedly threatening anyone with a gun.”