Publication Date



Deadly police-citizen encounters do not occur in a vacuum.
They reflect our times and our society. Since the fatal shooting of
Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, the nation's attention has
been riveted on police killings. In small towns and large cities,
virtually all of the victims have been African-American. In some
cases, the fatal encounters led to riots. Large-scale investigations
by the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division have provided
insight into some of the incidents.
Deadly police actions against citizens can be viewed as an
internal police problem,' as a symbol of larger societal challenges,
especially racism, or as a function of failed criminal justice
policies. On a yet larger scale, police actions, and the ensuing
community response, are intimately tied to the dominant political
and economic climate. In many parts of the country decreased
funding for vital governmental functions, especially since the
recession of 2008, has shaped police enforcement goals and tactics.
Those have contributed to the deterioration of community-police
relations and the civilian death toll at the hands of police.