One-hundred-seventy-six civilians were killed by police in January and February, according to news clippings collected by

Of course, the greatest outrage of all is that no one really knows how many people are killed by police annually. FBI Director James B. Comey said last month, “You could tell me how many people, the absolute number, bought a book on Amazon. It’s ridiculous I can’t tell you how many people were shot by police in this country last week, last year, the last decade.”

Most people killed by police are not armed with a gun. Only a small fraction of perpetrators are killed during or after a gunfight.

The people killed by police are generally not nice guys. They are deranged with mental problems, drug addicts, drunks, car thieves, shoplifters, vagrants, wife beaters–punks of all kinds and generally up to no good. But, they don’t deserve to die.

A typical example is the shooting of Antonio Zambrano-Montes, a depressed father of two who worked in an orchard near Pasco, Wash. A few weeks ago, police got a 911 call of a man throwing rocks at cars. When they arrived, the suspect ran away.

The video is very clear and shows three cops chasing him for a while, yelling for him to stop. Finally, Zambrano-Montes becomes exhausted after running in circles and eluding the cops. He stops and turns back to the chasing cops, as if to give up, raising his hands—no weapon in sight. The three cops are about 20 feet away and shoot Zambrano-Montes six times in the chest.

The video, which shows that he was clearly not an immediate danger to the police, is shocking. But, cases like this are almost always ruled as justifiable homicide.

YouTube video

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Blake Fleetwood , formerly on the staff of the New York Times, has written for New York Magazine, the New York Daily News, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the Village Voice, the Atlantic, and the Washington Monthly.