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Washington Post: Overwhelming Number of Police Shootings Justified

October 25, 2015  | 

The vast majority of individuals shot and killed by police officers were, like Snyder, armed with guns and killed after attacking police officers or civilians or making other direct threats, the Washington Post reports.

Jim Pasco, executive director of the national Fraternal Order of Police, said The Post’s findings confirm what police officers already know.

“We know that anecdotally, because typically that’s why police officers choose to use deadly force,” said Pasco, whose organization includes 335,000 officers nationwide. “These are circumstances where their lives or the lives of citizens around them are in imminent danger.”

In 74 percent of all fatal police shootings, the individuals had already fired shots, brandished a gun or attacked a person with a weapon or their bare hands, according to an analysis of actions immediately preceding the shootings, which draws on reports from law enforcement agencies and local media coverage. These 595 cases include fatal shootings that followed a wide range of violent crimes, including shootouts, stabbings, hostage situations, carjackings and assaults.

Another 16 percent of the shootings came after incidents that did not involve firearms or active attacks but featured other potentially dangerous threats. These shootings were most commonly of individuals who brandished knives and refused to drop them.

The 5 percent of cases that are often second-guessed include individuals who police said failed to follow their orders, made sudden movements or were accidentally shot. In another 4 percent of cases, The Post was unable to determine the circumstances of the shootings because of limited information or ongoing investigations.

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