Comedian Chelsea Handler wrote on Twitter that people of color have a 50/50 chance of getting “accidentally” shot by police.
She made the comment after 20-year-old Daunte Wright was shot and killed by a police officer during a traffic stop. During the stop, Wright, who had an outstanding warrant, broke free from police and entered the driver-side of his vehicle. Officer Kim Potter allegedly intended to use her taser but mistakenly drew and fired her gun instead. Bodycam footage shows that the officer shouted “Taser” several times before firing a single shot from her handgun. After firing, she yelled “Holy Shit! I just shot him!”
Handler wrote on Twitter: “Why would any person of color ever comply with a police officer when there is a 50/50 shot of getting ‘accidentally’ shot?”
What the statistics show:
According to the New York Times, there have been at least a dozen instances over the past 20 years of “weapon confusion” in which officers said they mistakenly fired their handgun when they meant to fire their stun gun instead.
The Washington Post has tracked fatal police shootings since 2015 and compiled the results in a searchable database. During that time, there have been more than 5,000 people shot and killed by police, at a consistent average of approximately 1,000 per year. About 95 percent of those shot were armed.
During that time, black and Hispanic people were shot and killed at a higher rate than white people. According to the Washington Post, there were 36 black people per million, 27 Hispanic people per million, and 15 white people per million who were shot and killed by police.
The number of unarmed people shot and killed by police, however, is much lower. According to the Washington Post, in 2019 there were a total of 54 unarmed people shot by police. This includes 26 whites, 12 blacks, 11 Hispanics, and 5 labeled as “other.”
In 2020, there were 55 unarmed people shot and killed by police: 24 whites, 18 blacks, 8 Hispanics, and 5 labeled as other or unknown.