Fatal Shootings by U.S. Police Officers in 2015: A Bird’s Eye View

Do the police exhibit bias when deciding to shoot? Experimental studies have yielded mixed evidence, and, until last year, there was no reliable national-level data pertaining to citizens killed by police.1 In 2015, The Washington Post collected detailed information about 990 fatal shootings by U.S. police officers. Using these data, the authors considered whether black civilians fatally shot by the police were (1) more likely to have been unarmed or (2) less likely to have been attacking the police or other civilians?which, based on prior literature, would be indicators of implicit bias.