FATAL ENCOUNTERS

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A step towards creating an impartial, comprehensive, and searchable national database of people killed during interactions with law enforcement.


  • The

    Fatal Encounters


 

 

The data is available for download right here. Just go under File > Download as > pick a format. We recommend downloading as csv. It wouldn’t hurt any to read our caveats here. A quick word about the data: At over 23,000 records, it’s tempting to consider this a comprehensive dataset. It’s not. While we completed the systematic states-by-year searches of the United States on November 3, 2017, we know we’ve missed some. This set was never intended to do anything except identify the names, demographic information, dates and locales of the dead and to give us direction for categories that needed further research. It is our intention to go deeper in areas we’ve identified, but this is still a first draft and should be recognized as such. The next upgrade will include latitude and longitude geocoding, and we’ll continue to do the weekly Tuesday updates (at minimum).

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“The nation’s leading law enforcement agency [FBI] collects vast amounts of information on crime nationwide, but missing from this clearinghouse are statistics on where, how often, and under what circumstances police use deadly force. In fact, no one anywhere comprehensively tracks the most significant act police can do in the line of duty: take a life,” according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal in its series Deadly Force (Nov. 28, 2011).

This site is founded upon the premise that Americans should have the ability to track that act.

Fatal Encounters intends to help create a database of all deaths through police interaction in the United States since Jan. 1, 2000. Casual researchers can browse through the data here.

We are not a finished product. We’re just the first step toward creating an impartial, comprehensive and searchable national database of people killed during interactions with law enforcement. We expect other media organizations, law enforcement, universities, artists and activist groups will advance our work, and that’s why we let anyone use the data for any reason for free.

This site will remain as impartial and data-driven as possible, directed by the theory that Americans should be able to answer some simple questions about the use of deadly force by police: How many people are killed in interactions with law enforcement in the United States of America? Are they increasing? What do those people look like? Can policies and training be modified to have fewer officer-involved shootings and improve outcomes and safety for both officers and citizens?

And finally, a word of thanks. This project owes a great debt to the many volunteers and paid researchers who got us this far. Carla DeCeros’ volunteer work was amazing. She did the initial work on more than 20 percent of this data. Walt Lockley also did incredible work, completing research on several key states. Christopher Cox did the bulk of the work on Texas. I can’t begin to mention all the people who contributed, but those three moved the data collection ahead by years. We’ve also had many funders who came forward when we desperately needed help, but two especially deserve thanks. Jan Schaffer, executive director of J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism enabled us to move from a primarily crowdsourced, volunteer project to a more professional effort with a $12,000 grant. Our largest individual funder has been Jeff Moe, and his contributions have meant the difference between moving forward and shuttering the project.

Thanks,
D. Brian Burghart

HELP OUR CAUSE

Every donation keeps us running. You can do a great part in effecting change by donating to FatalEncounters.

 

Founder’s Note:

Hello. Our efforts to collect information about officer-involved deaths going back to January 1, 2000, is completely funded by donations. Today, October 31, 2017, we’ve got 23,194 records of people killed during police interactions in the database. We’re about 99 percent of the way to the total. We hope to have a complete first draft in November 2017. Please donate here.

Thank you,
D. Brian