Colorado has some of nation’s highest police shooting numbers

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DENVER (KDVR) — Police from Englewood and Denver have both shot alleged criminals in the last five days, each adding one more fatality to Colorado’s larger-than-average total.

The Washington Post has tracked fatal police shooting data since 2015 by state, demographics, and arrest particulars such as armed or attack status.

Colorado’s deadly police shooting rate is one of the nation’s highest across several metrics.

Colorado is among the nation’s top five for police shootings in three areas – total fatalities, average fatalities per year and fatality rate.

Since 2015 and including last Friday’s fatal police shooting in Denver, Colorado police have shot and killed 224 people. This breaks down to 6.05 fatal police shootings per year per 1 million residents – the fifth-highest rate in the country.

Western states with smaller population densities tend to have higher rates. Alaska has the nation’s highest rate of annual fatal police shootings per 1 million people, followed by New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arizona, Colorado and Montana.

Those 224 deaths mean Colorado also has the fifth-highest total number of police shooting fatalities in the country.

With an average 35 per year, Colorado also has the fifth-highest annual average for fatal police shootings.

The year with the highest number of deadly police-involved shootings in Colorado was 2018, with 44 police shootings fatalities.

The annual number of shootings has gone up since 2017. From 2015-2017, there were an average 30 fatal police shootings per year.

From 2018-2020, there were an average 41 fatal police shootings per year. May 2020 saw seven police shooting deaths – the highest monthly total in the dataset.

Things are notably calmer in 2021. To date, there have been nine fatalities

Colorado’s fatal police shootings happen in some of the most populated areas, but some have much higher rates.

Denver claims the largest individual number of fatal police shootings at 35, followed by Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Aurora and Lakewood.

However, Denver has one of the lower rates of Colorado’s 15 most populous cities, with 7.19 per year per million – roughly equal to the rate in Boulder or Loveland.

Suburbs and non-metro cities have far higher rates. Denver suburb Westminster’s rate of deadly police-involved shooting is twice that of Denver’s. Pueblo has the highest rate of all at 24 annual police shooting fatalities per million – three times the rate of Denver.

Demographic data reveals some disparities in the proportion of racial groups killed by police.

This data has caveats, including the fact that numbers are not entirely known.

Ten percent of Colorado’s police fatalities happen to people whose race is unknown. There were 27 police shootings that killed people of an unknown race.

By total number, non-Hispanic whites are killed by police in the highest number. There were 109 non-Hispanic whites shot and killed by police 2015-present. At 57, Hispanics were the second highest.

Non-Hispanic Blacks were third highest. There were 19 non-Hispanic Blacks shot and killed by police 2015-present.

Some of these totals happed in proportion to each demographic group’s representation of the Colorado population, other did not.

Non-Hispanic whites are underrepresented. They make up 72% of Colorado’s population but only 49% of its police killings.

On the other hand, non-Hispanic Blacks are twice as represented in police killings as they are in Colorado’s population.

Hispanics are roughly equal. They are 22% of the Colorado population and 24% of Colorado police shooting fatalities.

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