DENVER (KDVR) — The number of deaths from police reached a decade high in 2022, according to the database Mapping Police Violence, keeping somewhat in step with the nation’s violent crime rates.
The killing of Tyre Nichols at the hands of Memphis police officers has rekindled some of the nationwide protests seen after George Floyd’s killing in 2020. Nichols died of injuries related to being stun gunned, pepper sprayed and beaten with a collapsible baton, fists and feet. The five officers involved have each been fired and are currently facing charges including aggravated assault and murder.
Statistics on lethal police interactions have historically been difficult to track and are largely unreliable before the early 21st century.
Recent records, however, do show trends. Killings by police in the United States have risen since 2020 and peaked last year, according to Mapping Police Violence. The database charts deaths following police use of force from 2013 to the present.
There were 1,192 killings by police officers in the U.S. in 2022, up from 1,147 the year before. The total number of killings by police officers has been rising, broadly, in the past decade.
The rate of reported violent crime has also been rising over the last 10 years, notably spiking in 2020 and remaining high for the next two years. The connection is not total. The number of police killings rose or fell with violent crime rates in five of the nine years between 2014 and 2021.
Nichols’ death is highly unusual in that it was not caused by a gunshot.
Of 11,205 deaths between 2013 and the present, 92% were by gunshot alone. Most of the remaining deaths were gunshots along with physical restraint, stun guns or pepper spray. Approximately 4% of deaths did not involve a gun.