Mapping Police Violence collected data on over 1,100 killings by police in 2021. We compiled this information from media reports, obituaries, public records, and databases like Fatal Encounters and the WashingtonPost. Despite the federal government’s efforts to create a national database on this issue, their Use of Force Data Collection program is expected to shut down this year because fewer than 60% of the nation's law enforcement reported data to the program. As such, this report represents the most comprehensive public accounting of deadly police violence in 2021. Our analysis suggests the majority of killings by police in 2021 could have been prevented and that specific policies and practices might prevent police killings in the future.
Scroll to explore the findings.
people were killed by police in 2021.
More people were killed by police in 2021 than almost any other year in recent history.
of people killed by police in 2021 were killed by police shootings. Tasers, physical force, and police vehicles accounted for most other deaths.
Officers were charged with a crime in only of these cases. One percent of all killings by police.
Each year, fewer than 3% of killings by police result in officers being charged with a crime. Officers are disproportionately prosecuted by Black prosecutors — especially Black women. Representing only 1% of the nation’s elected prosecutors, Black women were 9% of prosecutors who charged officers for killing someone, 13% of prosecutors convicting officers and 20% of prosecutors charging officers in two or more deadly force incidents from 2013-2021.
We were able to identify officers in cases. At least had shot or killed someone before. had multiple prior shootings.
Most killings began with police responding to suspected non-violent offenses or cases where no crime was reported. people were killed after police stopped them for a traffic violation.
In February 2021, the City of Berkeley enacted a new policy meant to restrict police from enforcing some traffic violations, including equipment violations like expired tags or tinted windows. While stops for equipment violations have declined since then, overall police traffic enforcement has not reduced substantially - indicating the need for more expansive restrictions on police traffic enforcement.
people were killed after police responded to reports of someone behaving erratically or having a mental health crisis.
Programs that send mental health providers instead of police to mental health-related 911 calls are beginning to be scaled up in some cities. Here are some examples, according to the latest data reported:
Eugene, OR: CAHOOTS program responds to 40% of mental health or disorderly persons calls citywide
San Francisco: Street Crisis Response Teams respond to 10% of mental health-related calls citywide
Portland: Street Response Teams responds to 23% of unwanted persons, suspicious persons, and non-emergency welfare check calls in designated neighborhoods
Denver: STAR program responds to 29% of welfare check, disturbance, suicidal or intoxicated persons calls in designated neighborhoods
people killed by police were unarmed.
Most unarmed people killed by police 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.
Police disproportionately kill Black people, year after year.
people killed by police had a vehicle as a weapon.
of these people were killed when police shot at a moving vehicle, a practice many experts say should be banned.
Experts, law enforcement groups, and the US Department of Justice recommend that police be banned from shooting at people in moving vehicles. These shootings are particularly ineffective and dangerous, since shooting the driver can make the vehicle an uncontrollable threat to both officers and the public.
Despite this, most police departments continue to allow officers to shoot people in these situations.
people killed by police were allegedly armed with a knife.
In many countries, police routinely disarm people who have knives without shooting them. In 2021, there were 2 fatal police shootings in all of the United Kingdom, a country of 67 million people where police encounter knife attacks at a similar rate as US police. In Los Angeles alone, a city of 4 million people, LAPD officers fatally shot 8 people allegedly armed with knives in 2021.
Half of those killed by police were reportedly armed with a gun.
But 1 in 6 people with a gun were not threatening anyone when they were killed. They might have been de-escalated instead.
% of killings by police in 2021 — deaths — were traffic stops, police responses to mental health crises, or situations where the person was not reportedly threatening anyone with a gun. Creating alternatives responses to these situations could substantially reduce this violence nationwide.
Which would mean substantially fewer people killed by police in almost every city.
This project was built with help from activists, researchers, and volunteers from across the country.
Data & Design Team:
Email us with inquires or suggested additions to our database.