In a year that changed everything, new data uncovers 2020 was the second deadliest year on record in regards to police violence.
Researchers found that most of the killings in 2020 occurred during a suspected non-violent encounter, or cases where no crime was reported. 121 people were killed after an officer stopped them over a traffic violation.
1,127 people were killed by police in 2020, of that number 96 percent were killed in police shootings. It’s the second highest number of people killed by police since Campaign Zero began tracking policing data in 2013.
Campaign Zero, an organization founded by Black Lives Matter activists Johnetta Elzie, Samuel Sinyangwe and DeRay McKesson, released the study on Wednesday.
Another important aspect found that Black people were more likely to be killed by police, more likely to be unarmed, and less likely to be threatening someone when killed.
Out of all the police killings in America Black people accounted for 27 percent, even though they only make up 13 percent of the population in America. 35 percent were unarmed, and 36 percent were unarmed or not alleged to be threatening.
“The data demonstrates the need for comprehensive solutions to address the persistent and glaring lack of accountability for police violence in America,” said Sinyangwe. “Police have killed more than 1,000 people every year since we began tracking the data – and as the 2020 data shows, hundreds of these deaths occurred during routine or non-threatening encounters. The pandemic and the lockdown did not change this pattern of police violence: more people were killed by police in 2020 than in 2019 and only 16 of these cases resulted in officers being charged with a crime. The police know, and the data confirms, that they can kill people with impunity. As we continue to conduct this research and compile evidence demonstrating the extent of police violence in this country, we must use these and other tools at our disposal to advocate for policies that can change these outcomes.” Sinyangwe said.
“In 2020, 626 deaths caused by police were traffic stops, responses to mental health crises, or other situations that can and should have been handled differently,” said McKesson. “That’s 626 people that would still be here today if we began to embrace alternatives to policing. It’s time we reimagine a system that for ages has disproportionately harmed communities of color. Mental health, substance abuse treatment and other community-based investments are necessary components to ensuring we fully address the needs of communities. Time and time again we’ve seen the police respond to these issues in a manner that escalates the situation, further endangering the public. It’s time we adopt policies that task trained professionals with responding to cases that reflect their expertise.”
Other integral pieces of research found that some of the officers who had shot or killed someone were repeat offenders. In 444 cases where officers were identified, 14 had shot or killed someone prior, and 5 had multiple prior shootings. And only 1 percent, amounting to 16 cases, led to officers being charged with a crime.
The report emphasizes that the majority of the violence enacted by police was preventable and community based initiatives could prevent similar occurrences in the future.
“Rather, the majority of killings by police resulted from violent and unnecessary police responses to routine and non-violent situations. The system must hold officers accountable for this violence,” the report reads.