US police kill more than two a day

US police have killed people at a rate of more than two per day this year, a level far higher than typical US federal counts, the Washington Post reported yesterday.

The newspaper is tracking such killings across the US because local police departments are not required to file reports to the federal government, meaning that nationwide statistics are incomplete or unavailable. The Post found that so far this year, at least 385 people have been shot and killed by police officers across the US — a rate of more than two per day. The rate is far higher than that tallied over the past decade by the federal government, which must rely on partial data because of the voluntary reporting requirements.

The Post found that many of the killings stemmed from minor interactions between police officers and community members that escalated into sudden violence. In one case, for instance, police in the Florida city of Miami Gardens killed a schizophrenic man who was waving a broomstick.

His mother had called police because she could not persuade him to come in from the cold.

The Post said that most of the people killed this year were “armed with potentially lethal objects,” mainly guns, but also knives and other items.

Sixteen percent were carrying a toy or were unarmed.

The tally comes as a national debate is taking place about the level at which police use deadly violence, especially in black and Latino communities.

One of the most prominent recent cases to fuel the debate is that of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old who was fatally shot last year in Ferguson, Missouri.

The death and subsequent lack of legal action against the police officer who shot him prompted widespread riots in the St Louis suburb and elsewhere.

In Baltimore last month, riots broke out following protests over the death of Freddie Gray, 25, who died from injuries sustained in the back of a police van.

The Post found that overall, black people were killed at three times the rate of other minorities or white people in the police killings it analyzed this year.