Special Report

States Where Police Kill the Most People, According to Violence Database

The Jan. 7 brutal beating death of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, at the hands of five Memphis, Tennessee, police officers highlighted once again the longstanding U.S. problem of suspects, particularly Black suspects, ending up dead even when they are unarmed and stopped or pursued for suspected nonviolent criminal activity.

Nichols was ostensibly pulled over for reckless driving, but video footage shows the officers, all of them Black, knocking Nichols to the ground with punches, kicks, and a police baton while the suspect begs for mercy. Nichols died in hospital three days later from the injuries he sustained in the attack. The five officers are facing numerous felonies, including second-degree murder, and other officers, sheriff’s deputies, and Fire Department employees have been disciplined.

Nichols is one of at least 158 people who have been killed by police officers in the first two months of 2023, according to data from the nonprofit organization Mapping Police Violence. These people can be added to the estimated 11,200 people that have been killed by police during law enforcement actions in the 50 U.S. states from 2013 to 2022. (This is the state that spends the most on the police.)

Police killings are not even in each state. To determine the states with the most killings by police departments, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from Mapping Police Violence, a research collaborative that collects data on police killings across the nation from three large databases. Data includes all police department killings from 2013 through the end of 2022. Police killings per 100,000 were calculated using five-year 2021 population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. 

In a dozen U.S. states, more than 40% of the suspects that have been killed by police in the 10 years through 2022 were Black, led by 65% in Maryland and 56% in Louisiana, largely due to the high levels of violent crime in the cities of Baltimore and New Orleans. In Maryland and New Jersey, the percentage of suspects killed by police who were unarmed was 56% and 64%, respectively. In Illinois, nearly 55% of suspects killed by police were Black, while 44% were fleeing at the time they were killed, and 43% were unarmed. (These are the most militarized local police departments in America.)

In 13 U.S. states, no police officer was disciplined or fired for their involvement in these killings. Only two states have fired or disciplined at least one in 10 officers involved in these killings: South Carolina and Virginia.

Here are the states with the most police killings per capita.

Click here to read our detailed methodology.

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