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Police shootings of unarmed Black people in the U.S. are three times higher than that of white people since 2015.

Credit: Sage Levine

Police violence continues to disproportionately injure and kill Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous people, a recent study found.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine, Yale University, and Drexel University. The researchers found that despite the increased use of body cameras and media attention to police brutality, police have shot unarmed Black and Indigenous people at more than three times the rate of white people since 2015, Penn Medicine News reported.

The study used data on fatal police shootings from The Washington Post. The database includes the age, race, and gender of each person killed by on-duty police officers, as well as whether the victims were armed, Penn Medicine News reported. The database has been created by The Post’s reporting, independent databases, and local news reports. 

Researchers used the data from The Post to quantify changes in fatal police shootings according to race from 2015 to early 2020. 

According to the study, the researchers found that over the past five years, there was a small but still statistically significant decline in white deaths from police shootings, but the rate of fatal shootings of BIPOC showed no significant changes. In the five-year period, the rate of fatal police shootings of unarmed Black and Indigenous people in the United States was over three times as high as it was for white people.  

51% of the victims of fatal police shootings were white, 27% were Black, 19% were Hispanic, 2% were Asian, and nearly 2% were Native American, Penn Medicine News reported.

Researchers also determined the death rate and total years of life lost (YLL) caused by fatal police shootings. YLL is estimated using the difference between the age of the victim at the time of their death and the life expectancy for U.S. citizens born in the same year as the victim, Penn Medicine News reported.

Researchers found that fatal police shootings over the past five years are accountable for 31,960 years of life lost, Penn Medicine News reported. 

Authors of the study urged health professionals to "frame police violence against BIPOC as a public health crisis and mobilize policymakers to confront this injustice pursuant to achieving health equity.”

"Fatal police shootings are a public health crisis and it can be compared to other conditions that we consider to be important and high priority," Elle Lett, the study's lead author and an M.D.-Ph.D. student at the Perelman School of Medicine, told Penn Medicine News.