January 23, 2020
In 2015, The Washington Post began to log every fatal shooting by an on-duty police officer in the United States. In that time there have been nearly 5,000 such shootings recorded by The Post.
After Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, was killed in 2014 by police in Ferguson, Mo., a Post investigation found that the FBI undercounted fatal police shootings by more than half. This is because reporting by police departments is voluntary and many departments fail to do so.
The Post’s data relies primarily on news accounts, social media postings and police reports. Analysis of more than five years of data reveals that the number and circumstances of fatal shootings and the overall demographics of the victims have remained relatively constant.