SNAPSHOTS AT YEAR'S END: How many people have been shot and killed...

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 30, 2020

...by police officers this year?: How many people have been shot and killed by police officers this year?

As a general matter, the general topic has received limited attention in the press of late. For obvious reasons, press attention has been focused on the ongoing pandemic. 

Also, on the presidential election, along with the latest absurd misstatements and absurd behaviors of our reigning commander in chief.

In the past few days, a fleeting statement by Benjamin Crump sent us to the Washington Post's invaluable Fatal Force web site. As of this very morning, these are some basic results of a year-end review:

According to the Fatal Force site, 972 people have been shot and killed by police officers this year (as of December 23). That closely matches the number of fatal shootings recorded in each year since the invaluable site was launched in 2014.

(Important note: The Fatal Force site makes no attempt to judge which fatal shootings were justified, perhaps even life-saving and meritorious, and which fatal shootings were not.)

As is typically the case, white victims outnumber black victims by a roughly two-to-one ratio. As of this morning, the Post site calls the roll as shown:

People shot and killed by police officers, 2020
White: 430
Black: 221
Hispanic: 152
Other: 22
Unknown: 147

For the record, that represents quite a few "unknowns." As we've noted in the past. the site has increasingly failed to identify the race of the decedents in recent years.

Who has been shot and killed lately? As of this morning, these were the four most recent capsule accounts at the Fatal Force site:

Joseph Tanner Casten, a 19-year-old White man with a toy weapon, was shot on Dec. 23, 2020 on a street in Joliet, Ill.

Mark Clermont, a 45-year-old [white] man armed with a gun, was shot on Dec. 23, 2020, in a vehicle in Dalton, N.H.

Christopher Cuevas, a 45-year-old Hispanic man armed with a metal object, was shot on Dec. 22, 2020, in a yard in Glendale, Ariz.

Andre Maurice Hill, an unarmed 47-year-old Black man, was shot on Dec. 22, 2020 in Columbus Ohio.

Because he was unarmed, the fatal shooting of Hill has generated criticism and commentary in the past week. Based on a 30-second Google search, we've added Clermont's race to the Fatal Force capsule account, in which he's been left as an unknown.

Why do people get shot and killed when they are unarmed? As with many things, there's no single explanation. For what it's worth, Fatal Force lists forty such fatal shootings this year. Unarmed decedents break down as shown:

17 white, 13 black, 6 Hispanic, 1 other, 3 unknown

Now for some full disclosure. When we went to the Fatal Force site, we took note of the most recent listing, in which a 19-year-old "white" man was shot and killed while in possession of a "toy weapon."

The Fatal Force site lists such decedents as having been armed. The site lists twenty-five such fatal shootings this year:

10 white, 6 black, 3 Hispanic, 5 other, 1 unknown

Why does Fatal Force list such decedents as armed? Presumably, because the "toy weapons" in question are often completely indistinguishable from actual weapons, and because such toy guns are sometimes deliberately used to aid the commission of crimes. 

Yesterday, we pondered the recent death of that 19-year-old man who was armed with a toy gun. Based upon this report in the Chicago Sun-Times, the incident may have been the latest case of so-called "suicide by cop."

Yesterday, we took note of that incident, thinking of the 2014 shooting death of Tamir Rice as we did. This morning, the Tamir Rice case was back in the news—for example, in this news report in the Washington Post.

Wikipedia provides a detailed account of this particular incident. For our money, the most remarkable misconduct in the case involves the remarkable way the officer who fired the fatal shots had been hired, less than a year before, by the Cleveland Police Department.

Wikipedia provides a detailed account of this incident, in which a 12-year-old boy who intended no harm to anyone was shot and killed by a police officer who should never have been hired in the first place. In fairness, it has always seemed to us that the other police officer—the more experienced officer who was driving the car—was more at fault in this wholly avoidable shooting death, for reasons we won't go into today.

Here's something else we'll note. In our view, even Wikipedia omits a basic fact about this tragic, wholly avoidable incident. 

What fact does Wikipedia omit? We won't go there today. That said, as we in Our Town have begun to direct attention to such shooting deaths, disappeared, invented and irrelevant facts have played remarkably outsized roles in the way we discuss such events.

This era began with the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. National coverage of that event began with a howling factual error in the New York Times.

The Times backed away from this howling error in the days which followed. But the paper has failed to correct its howling error right to this very day.

The howling error in question rather plainly seemed to track back to the legal team assembled by Benjamin Crump. Yesterday, it was Crump's presentation about the latest fatal shooting which occasioned our year-end review.

In his most recent column, Paul Krugman describes the way the conservative world has toyed with economic facts over the past many years. 

Over in the conservative town, they've behaved that way forever. Over here, in the streets of Our Town, we tend to put our thumbs on the scale when it comes to matters of gender and race.

We plan to focus on this tendency in the coming year. Beyond the borders of Our Town, we townies aren't always well-liked. It seems to us that the aforementioned tendency here in Our Town plays a very large role in that profoundly counterproductive state of affairs.

As we walk the streets of Our Town, we sometimes get an uneasy feeling. We get the feeling that if it weren't for all the performative virtue in Our Town, there would be no virtue at all.

Surely, that impression can't be correct. Still, the impression can, at times, be strong.

Still coming, tomorrow and Saturday: Performative Virtue On the Prairie; the proximate cause of Norris' howler; what Mark Shields once said


18 comments:

  1. "What fact does Wikipedia omit? We won't go there today."

    And this is how Somerby puts his thumb on the scale. Heaven forbid that we should have access to the same facts as Somerby and thus be able to follow his reasoning...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
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  2. "Yesterday, it was Crump's presentation about the latest fatal shooting which occasioned our year-end review."

    I'll bet it was Kevin Drum's graph of police killings that occasioned today's essay, not anything Crump did.

    Drum presents a graph tailored to show little change. The scale is ridiculous and then he characterizes the decreases as negligible when they are a substantial % of the total deaths, which are not that numerous, as Somerby points out. Drum doesn't say so, but his point, that nothing has changed, obviously takes the wind out of the sails of BLM and police reform efforts.

    Why are these two middle-class elderly white men so insistent on showing that the shooting deaths of unarmed citizens by police are no big deal?

    The man is Ohio had a cell phone in his hand. Was that also indistinguishable from a real gun? The female partner of the shooter had no trouble telling that the deceased was unarmed. But Somerby is entirely unwilling to examine police culture and male testosterone as contributors to such crimes. He is more intent on correcting the racial labeling of victims to show that white people get shot too.

    That's our Somerby!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Somerby complains that liberals focus on race in police shootings, some of which he dismisses as "suicide by cop." But he has said nothing about that giant suicide by bomb in Nashville, committed by a white man whose girlfriend even told the police that he was building bombs in his RV. What does a white man have to do in the South to be considered a danger? While black men are being shot in their own yards for carrying a cell phone. And Somerby thinks we liberals should be concerned about being disliked for complaining about this kind of disparity!

    This is what racism looks like. The police are ignoring real crime in order to focus on keeping a racial minority under control. A black man in our society has a justified question when he asks "what do I have to do to avoid being shot by police?" A black teen has a justified question when he asks "what do I have to do to avoid being accused of stealing by random white people?" A black presidential candidate has a justified question when she asks "what do I have to do to avoid being accused of being a bad candidate for reporting the same statistics as everyone else uses?"

    Somerby says we should care about being disliked. I regard that "dislike" as defensiveness by people who know they have been misbehaving and are reluctant to let go of their social advantages, reluctant to treat others better. Occasionally Somerby shows his mean, bitter side here. We can expect that as the push for civil rights continues, more Somerby's will show their ugly sides, but being "liked" isn't worth sacrificing equal treatment in a society that should do better.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Today's covid death count was 3628.

    Somerby is apparently upset because they didn't mention the white race of someone who was shot by the police. As he argues that race doesn't matter...

    ReplyDelete
  5. “white victims outnumber black victims by a roughly two-to-one ratio.”

    And in the US, whites outnumber blacks by a factor of 4.8 to 1.

    We thought per capita was the way to report things here at the Howler. Perhaps that only applies to Covid deaths.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Also white suicides dwarf "black on black" violence, which racist Republicans pretend to be concerned about. Why are whites so depressed?

      Delete
  6. "As we've noted in the past. the site has increasingly failed to identify the race of the decedents in recent years."

    Why, it's perfectly understandable, dear Bob. Once a person dies, it becomes kinda difficult to ask them which "race" (if any) they identify with.

    I imagine how stressful it has to be for you liberal-hitlerians, as you positively must assign "races" to individuals. Perhaps you liberal-hitlerians should establish a brand-new spiritualist government agency? Something to think about, dear Bob...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If Biden tries to gaslight the pandemic, like Trump did, I bet he will lose a Presidential election by a landslide, like Trump did.

      #itisnotrocketscience

      Delete
  7. "In his most recent column, Paul Krugman describes the way the conservative world has toyed with economic facts over the past many years."

    Oh, yeah?

    Since you, dear Bob, appear to be closely following dembot Krug's revelations: does he still insist that the Internet’s impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine's? Inquiring minds want to know.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mao's Inquiring MindDecember 30, 2020 at 5:59 PM

      I don't really want to know...


      ...I'm so terribly lonely

      Delete
    2. Mao's shriveled & atrophied penisDecember 30, 2020 at 11:18 PM

      Tell me about it.

      Delete
  8. Those white people shot by the cops were no angels.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Somerby delcaring something a howler doesn't make it so.

    Somerby either doesn't read his comments or he is pretending he doesn't read them. In either case, he doesn't response to corrections of his mistakes. He then compounds his error by continuing to call something a howler when it has been demonstrated that Somerby is wrong.

    I consider it offensive that Somerby targets certain people and then calls their statements howlers when there is no redress for those targets. That is just dishonest.

    One of the differences between conservatives and liberals is that liberals care about approximating truth whereas conservatives lie with impunity. Somerby has several times been shown to be bending facts (often by omission). His treatment of his targets here is more in line with the way conservatives manufacture complaints, than it is with liberal ethics.

    He owes Norris an apology, but he is instead promising to renew his attack on her later this week. This is the way conservatives operate, not liberals.

    ReplyDelete
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