More than 55,000 Americans were either killed or injured by US police in just one year, a new study has revealed. Most of the deaths were from fatal firearm wounds or excessive use of taser devices.
The study, titled ‘Perils of police action: a cautionary tale from US data sets,’ covers the year 2012 and offers greater context to the issue of police brutality, which has only grown bigger in the four years since the research.
Published in the peer-reviewed British medical journal Injury Prevention, the study found that a total of 55,400 people were victims of police officers’ “abuse of power” or “loss of control out of anger or fear” in 2012.
Among them, 1,063 people were either shot or tasered to death by law enforcement, out of an estimated 12.3 million arrests or stop-and-search incidents.
On average, nearly 34 people were killed or had to seek hospital treatment for injuries sustained from police per 10,000 stops or arrests.
The research found that the numbers aren’t distributed evenly when it comes to race, ethnicity, or age.
“Blacks, Native Americans and Hispanics had higher stop/arrest rates per 10,000 population than white non-Hispanics and Asians,” the study’s authors stated.
“Given a national history of racism, the excess per capita death rate of blacks from US police action rightly concerns policy analysts, advocates and the press,” the study added.
“The excess appears to reflect exposure. Blacks are arrested more often than whites, and youth more often than the elderly.”
However, the study found that when black people are stopped or arrested by US police, they are “no more likely” than white people to be killed during that incident.
In 2015, there were 1,207 people killed by police across the US, according to Killed By Police resource data.
It comes on the backdrop of the latest chilling events of the kind – the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, both African-American, in Louisiana and Minnesota. News of the events spurred massive protests nationwide.
One such protest in Dallas, initially peaceful, became violent when five police officers were killed and seven others wounded by a shooter, leading to the deadliest single incident for US law enforcement since September 11, 2001.
Earlier this month, black behavioral therapist Charles Kinsey was wounded in the leg while lying on the ground in a car park, his arms raised, after attempting to calm one of his autistic patients.
When police were asked why they shot the man, one of the officers simply said, “I don’t know.”
However, the most high-profile police violence case was when a white officer killed unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown almost two years ago in Ferguson, Missouri. The incident sparked weeks of violent unrest across the US and around the world.