Mapping Police Violence collected data on over 1,100 killings by police in 2020. Compiling information from media reports, obituaries, public records, and databases like Fatal Encounters and the WashingtonPost, this report represents the most comprehensive accounting of deadly police violence in 2020. Our analysis suggests the majority of killings by police in 2020 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 2020.
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.
of these cases had video evidence. Most of these videos were captured by police body and dash cameras.
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.
Some cities and states have begun to restrict or remove the police from traffic enforcement.
In July 2020, the City of Berkeley passed legislation moving traffic enforcement duties from the police department to a new agency of unarmed civil servants. Other cities like Cambridge, MA, are considering similar measures. And in November 2020, Virginia lawmakers passed HB 5058 which prohibits police from stopping cars for equipment violations like a broken light or tinted windows.
people were killed after police responded to reports of someone behaving erratically or having a mental health crisis.
In Eugene, OR, mental health providers respond to these calls instead of police. In Los Angeles County, co-responder teams of mental health providers and police jointly respond to the most extreme mental health-related calls.
An analysis by LA Sheriff’s Department estimated this program prevented as many as 751 use of force incidents and 9 killings by police in 2018.
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.
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. For example, police in the United Kingdom encounter knife attacks at a similar rate as US police but handled these situations without using firearms in all but 3 cases in 2020.
Consistent with international law, police in the UK are prohibited from using firearms except where strictly necessary after considering non-violent and less lethal options. Laws in most US states do not require police to exhaust all available alternatives prior to using deadly force.
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 2020 — 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.