Since Start of Derek Chauvin Trial, U.S. Police Have Killed an Average of 3 People Per Day: Report

At least 64 people have died at the hands of law enforcement since March 29, according to a New York Times analysis

Minnesota protest
A memorial in Seattle was created April 12 after the police shooting in Minnesota of Daunte Wright. Photo: David Ryder/Getty

During three weeks of testimony in the murder trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin in connection with George Floyd's death, at least 64 other people were killed at the hands of law enforcement, according to a new analysis.

The total was compiled by The New York Times, which based its analysis on news media reports, law enforcement news releases, and gun violence databases.

Some of those cases are now well-known. Just outside Minneapolis, where closing arguments in Chauvin's trial began Monday, 20-year-old Daunte Wright was fatally shot March 11 at a traffic stop by an officer, Kim Potter, now charged with manslaughter. And on Thursday, police-worn body camera video was made public of a Chicago officer shooting Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old, who is seen fleeing with a gun but then raising his hands before he was shot early on March 29, hours before attorneys prosecuting Floyd's murder opened their case.

Other fatal shootings — more than a dozen — involved persons suffering from mental illness or experiencing a breakdown. Jeffrey Ely, 40, of Claremont, N.H., claimed on his Facebook page that he was subject to "mind control" and being harassed by voices before he barricaded himself and died March 31 in a shootout with New Hampshire State Police, reports the Concord Monitor.

At least 42 of those killed by police in the past three weeks were accused of wielding firearms. Anthony J. Thompson, Jr., 17, was shot dead in a high school bathroom by officers responding to a report of a student with a gun; during a scuffle with officers in the restroom, the student's gun went off, and officers fired twice, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

And at least 10 people were killed by officers responding to reports of domestic violence.

george floyd memorial in minneapolis
A memorial at the Minneapolis site where George Floyd was killed. Getty

Chauvin, 44, a white former Minneapolis police officer, has pleaded not guilty to murder in the death of Floyd, 46, a Black man, who lost consciousness while detained on the ground with Chauvin's knee pinned to his neck for about nine minutes during Floyd's arrest May 25 for allegedly spending a counterfeit $20 bill.

Black Lives Matter protests
A June 2020 Black Lives Matter protest in Los Angeles after the death of George Floyd. Rich Fury/Getty Images

Black and Latino victims represent more than half of those killed as of Saturday.

On average, three people per day have been killed by law enforcement since testimony against Chauvin began, according to the Times.

Patrick Yoes, president of the national Fraternal Order of Police, says that placing blame for all of the accumulated shootings on law enforcement is unfair. Instability caused by factors such as poverty and poor education can leave people feeling hopeless, which can place officers in situations where people may be dangerous.

"There's just so many factors that people have already made up their minds and they think that law enforcement is based off of race," Yoes, who is white, told the Times.

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Ron Johnson, a retired Missouri State Highway Patrol captain who directed the police response after the 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, says that he sometimes see "a different aggression" by officers in encounters with people of color. Johnson is Black.

"This adrenaline starts going out of the roof," Johnson told the Times. "And why? It's because we don't have these experiences and these understandings of each other. And in some cases, it's about humanity. We don't see them in the same human way that we see ourselves."

Police have killed 319 people in 2021, according to Mapping Police Violence, a research and advocacy organization whose tally includes deaths, like Floyd's, that did not involve a gun.

Through April 4, the organization says there were only three days where police did not kill someone.

At least since 2013, about 1,100 people a year have been killed by law enforcement, according to the organization, although that number dipped during 2020.

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