Table of contents

A "battle at the frontiers of public information"

From David Simon's 2009 essay, "In Baltimore, No One Left to Press the Police"

In an American city, a police officer with the authority to take human life can now do so in the shadows, while his higher-ups can claim that this is necessary not to avoid public accountability, but to mitigate against a nonexistent wave of threats…

At one point last week, after the department spokesman denied me the face sheet of the shooting report, I tried doing what I used to do: I went to the Southeastern District and demanded the copy on file there. When the desk officer refused to give it to me, I tried calling the chief judge of the District Court. But Sweeney’s replacement no longer handles such business.

It’s been a while since any reporter asked, apparently. So I tried to explain the Maryland statutes to the shift commander, but so long had it been since a reporter had demanded a public document that he stared at me as if I were an emissary from some lost and utterly alien world.

"A shot in the dark"

From the Daily Show, Oct. 7, 2014

Synopsis: Samantha Bee attempts to uncover statistics about the excessive use of lethal force by the police, only to discover that this data is mysteriously nonexistent. (7:09)

Projects and investigations

Here's a short list of journalism projects and investigations into police-involved shootings, before Ferguson and after:

image D.C. Police Lead Nation in Shootings (1999)

This classic of investigative data journalism was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 1999. A team of 15 reporters, editors, computer analysts, and graphic artists produced this five-part investigation into why the D.C. police force had “shot and killed more people per resident in the 1990s than any other large American city police force.”

image Fatal Encounters
Fatal Encounters |

Perhaps the first modern crowdsourced attempt to track police-involved homicides, the Fatal Encounters project was launched by a newspaper editor angry that “somebody somewhere decided Americans shouldn’t know how many people are killed by police and under what circumstances.”

image The Counted
The Counted | The Guardian

The Counted is a project by the Guardian – and you – working to count the number of people killed by police and other law enforcement agencies in the United States throughout 2015, to monitor their demographics and to tell the stories of how they died.

image Investigation: Police shootings
Investigation: Police shootings | The Washington Post

The Washington Post’s database of police shootings is based on news reports, public records, Internet databases and original reporting.

image Shielded by the law
Shielded by the law | The Seattle Times

Out of the 213 people killed by police in Washington from 2005 to 2014, the Seattle Times found that just one officer was ever charged.

image Officer Involved (Los Angeles County)

Between Jan. 1, 2010 and Dec. 31, 2014, Los Angeles County district attorney records show at least 375 people were shot by on-duty officers.

image Deadly Force: When Las Vegas Police Shoot, And Kill

A 2011 investigative series into Las Vegas police-involved shootings that found many of the deaths “could have been avoided”. The Review-Journal also published a database of local officer-involved shootings since 1990.

image Deadly Force: A Decade of Oklahoma City Police Department Shootings

To examine the issue of deadly force, The Oklahoman reviewed Oklahoma City police shootings from 2004 through 2013.

image In 179 fatalities involving on-duty NYPD cops in 15 years, only 3 cases led to indictments — and just 1 conviction

A Daily News analysis of NYPD-involved deaths starts with the 1999 slaying of unarmed Amadou Diallo in a hail of bullets in the Bronx and ends with the November 2014 shooting death of Akai Gurley in a Brooklyn stairwell.

The StreetCred® Police Killings in Context (PKIC) database is an open-standard data set that includes incidents (other than traffic accidents) in which an unarmed civilian was killed during an encounter with American police who (whether on-, or off-duty) were acting in an official capacity, from the time of first contact through booking.

image Line of Fire: Bullets, badges, and death on the street

Reporters created a database of 256 police shootings in a 15 year span – 86 of them resulting in deaths – and found that many of the shootings “didn’t have to happen.” Among the incidents counted, only one deputy lost his job and no deputy had ever been criminally charged.

image Unanswered
Unanswered | Creative Loafing

Reporters found that Metro Atlanta police officers have fatally shot at least 75 people since 2010.

image Police Open Data Census: Officer-Involved Shootings

A list of datasets of officer-involved shootings published by law enforcement agencies.

image Killed by Police
Killed by Police | A Facebook community group

Originally started off as a Facebook group that collected “corporate news reports of people killed by U.S. law enforcement officers May 1, 2013”

image The Homicide Report
The Homicide Report | The Los Angeles Times

This ongoing project to track all homicides includes a filter for deaths marked as officer-involved.

image Officer Involved
Officer Involved | The Intercept

Data artist Josh Begley’s uses The Guardian’s database of police-involved shootings and creates geo-photographic montage using Google satellite and street maps.

Articles, essays, and stories

A brief selection of articles and essays about police shootings:

In Baltimore, No One Left to Press the Police | David Simon

A powerful essay about the state of affairs between the government and journalists; Simon laments how a weakened press allowed a Baltimore police officer to nearly go unscrutinized after killing a man (it’s worth reading how things turned out when the officer was put on the stand.)

Distraught People, Deadly Results | The Washington Post

An in-depth story focused specifically on how police respond when confronting mentally unstable suspects.

Is Google More Accurate Than the FBI? | The Marshall Project

An in-depth overview of the official and the independent crowdsourced efforts (and techniques) to count police-involved homicides.

Data on Use of Force by Police Across U.S. Proves Almost Useless | The New York Times

The Justice Department attempts to analyze police shootings nationwide but finds that the data is flawed. Some large police forces, such as the NYPD and Detroit, could not or would not provide numbers.

Nobody Knows How Many Americans The Police Kill Each Year | FiveThirtyEight

This analysis came shortly after the death of Michael Brown as people searched for nationwide data.

Nobody counts police killings in the U.S. | St. Louis Post-Dispatch

A Post-Dispatch analysis of the data from 2005-12 shows more than 1,100 departments — or roughly 6 percent of the country’s law enforcement agencies — have reported a killing by an officer or private citizen that is considered justifiable.

Bolts from the blue | The Guardian

A Guardian investigation reveals that many US police departments have struggled to regulate Tasers, despite dozens of deaths after their use this year – and researchers who argue the weapons can be lethal

Deadly Force, in Black and White | ProPublica

A ProPublica analysis of federally collected data on fatal police shootings found that young black males, age 15 to 19, were killed by police at a rate of 31.17 per million, compared to 1.47 per million of white males in that age range.

Q&A with The Guardian reporters behind The Counted | Reddit r/IAmA and The Guardian

We’re the Guardian reporters behind The Counted, a project to chronicle every person killed by police in the US. We’re here to answer your questions about police and social justice in America.

Police officers' names still secret 3 years after shooting | The Associated Press

Gregory McDaniel was shot twice during a police drug raid on a South Carolina home where he was sleeping in 2012, but prosecutors have refused to release the officer’s name.

About The Counted: why and how the Guardian is counting US police killings | The Guardian

The Guardian explains why and how it intends to create a verified crowdsourced system of tracking killings by law enforcement.

That Pareto Guy? Turns Out He’s Pretty Smart | Nick Selby, CEO of StreetCred Software

An incident-by-incident critique of the data in The Guardian’s police-shootings database.

Death by Law Enforcement: What the data tells us – and what it doesn't | Sunlight Foundation

An analysis of what’s contained in the CDC’s Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research (WONDER) and National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) databases.

Visualization of Police-Involved Homicides in the U.S. Since 2011 | KQED

A somewhat elaborate visualization based off of the Fatal Encounters data.

Philadelphia Cops Shoot and Kill People at 6 Times the Rate of the NYPD | Mother Jones

A 174-page Justice Department report details the use of deadly force by Philly police officers.


These are the datasets that I've been able to find so far. The list includes both the recent crowdsourced initiatives and anything else which has been organized enough to at least fit in a HTML table, though not all of these sources have direct links to downloadable data.

Source Info page Direct download
Baltimore Police Department BPD Officer Involved Injuries (Socrata) Socrata CSV
Dallas Police Department Officer Involved Shootings Socrata CSV
Fatal Encounters Spreadsheets Google Sheets CSV
The Washington Post Github repo: data-police-shootings Github Raw CSV
The Guardian About The Counted Zipped CSV
The Seattle Times project, "Shielded By The Law" The seattletimes/police-killings Github repo Raw CSV file
Creative Loafing Metro Atlanta officer-involved fatal shootings Google Sheets CSV
Creative Loafing Metro Atlanta officer-involved non-fatal shootings Google Sheets CSV
Deadspin The Deadspin Police-Shooting Database Google Sheets CSV
Killed By Police on Facebook, as scraped via FiveThirtyEight Another (Much Higher) Count Of Homicides By Police Google Sheets CSV
FBI Uniform Crime Reports Justifiable Homicide, by Weapon, Law Enforcement, 2009-2013 Excel spreadsheet
Mapping Police Violence Police Violence Reports
Killed by Police yearly tabular reports
Wikipedia List of U.S. LEO killings
Gun Violence Archive Filtered by Officer-Involved Shootings
Denver Police Department Officer-involved shooting investigations
Houston Police Department Officer Involved Shootings
Philadelphia Police Department Officer Involved Shootings
Las Vegas Police Department Fatal Shootings
Las Vegas Police Department Non-Fatal Shootings
Las Vegas Review Journal Deadly Force searchable database
Los Angeles Times Homicide Report; filtered by Officer-Involved homicides
Palm Beach Post and WPTV5 Police shootings: Deputies shielded by the badge

Documents, Memos, and Papers

Official memos and documents and academic research relating to the use of deadly force by law enforcement.

National Data Collection on Police Use of Force | Bureau of Justice Statistics and the National Institute of Justice

This 1996 report discusses existing research on police use of force. It describes how the BJS and the National Institute of Justice plan to collect data on police use of force.

Arrest-Related Deaths | Bureau of Justice Statistics

A landing page that leads to a repository of data files that contain tallies of arrest-related deaths, including by state, over various time frames of study.

An Assessment of Deadly Force in the Philadelphia Police Department | U.S. Department of Justice

From the DOJ press release:

Through its 48 findings, the assessment identifies serious deficiencies in the department’s use of force policies and training, including a failure to maintain a certified field training program; deficient, inconsistent supervision and operational control of officer-involved shooting investigations and crime scenes; and oversight and accountability practices in need of improvement, the most notable being the need for the department to fully cooperate with the Police Advisory Commission.

FBI Justifiable Homicide (yearly summaries) | Federal Bureau of Investigation
International Association of Police Chiefs |

This 2001 report was their last, due to an end of federal funding that year, according to the St. Louis Dispatch.

General Order - Investigation Of Officer Involved Shootings And Discharges | San Francisco Police Department

A memo dated 2005 that “outlines the rules and procedures to be followed in the conduct of all officer-involved shooting and discharge investigations.”

General Order 906.00 - Dallas Police Department Use of Deadly Force Policy | Dallas Police Department

A memo outlining the philosophy and policy behind the justification of deadly use of force for Dallas law enforcement personnel.

Police Responses to Officer-Involved Shootings, David Klinger, grant number 97–IC–CX–0029 | David Klinger for the National Institute of Justice

This study explored the “emotional, psychological, and physical reactions of 80 officers and sheriff’s deputies during and after 113 incidents in which they shot someone, using a combination of questionnaires and personal interviews.”

Annual Professional Standards Report 2013 | Greensboro (N.C.) Police Department

via the Greensboro, N.C., an example of a report that contains aggregate data of a department’s use of force.

2014 Yearly Use of Force Report | Montgomery County, Maryland, Policy and Planning Division