How place and race drive the numbers of fatal police shootings in the US: 2015–2020

Hossein Zare, Nicholas S. Meyerson, Paul Delgado, Cassandra Crifasi, Michelle Spencer, Darrell Gaskin, Roland J. Thorpe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Place and race are two important predictors of fatal police shootings. We used Mapping Police Violence Data and the Washington Post Fatal Force Data to determine whether a county's deprivation status within communities influences the association between the number of fatal police shootings, and how the number of fatal police shootings differs by race and ethnicity. We categorized counties based on the Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) to three categories: low-, medium-, and high-SVI. The analytical sample included 3136 US counties between 2015 and 2020; during this time, 5525 individuals were fatally shot by police. Our findings show that place strongly impacts the number of fatal police shootings. Among all fatal shootings, 713 occurred in low-SVI counties, 1660 in middle-SVI, and 3152 in high-SVI counties. Race played a significant role; fatal shooting deaths increased by 2.3 times among White individuals, 9.6 times among Black individuals, and 15 times among Hispanic individuals between low- and high-SVI counties. The results of negative binomial regressions show a strong association between fatal police shootings and the counties' characteristics. In comparison with low-SVI counties, residents in counties with moderate and high-SVI are more likely to be fatally shot by police by 4.9 and 5.8 percentage points. In addressing violence and fatal police shootings, the vulnerability of counties and the population's racial composition play significant roles and need specific attention in addressing systemic racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalPreventive Medicine
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • Police violence
  • Fatal police shootings
  • Criminal justice
  • Place
  • Race


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