Since 2005, 8,730 deaths have been reported in Texas custody.
Texas law enforcement officers have shot 466 civilians since Sept. 1, 2015.
There have been 78 Texas law enforcement officers shot since Sept. 1, 2015.
What do we know about those deaths?

Choose a topic below to learn more, or scroll down to start from the beginning.

Where are shootings more likely to occur?

Shootings happen where people happen.

The vast majority of Texas shootings (89%) occur in urban areas, but the vast majority of Texas people also live in urban areas (90%).

In urban areas (counties with 50,000+ residents) and urban clusters (2,500-50,000 residents), approximately 17 of every on million people were shot by police from Sept 2015 – May 2018. The differences between urban areas (16.6 shootings per million) and urban clusters (17.3 shootings per million) are small and not statistically significant.

Rural areas only had 3 shootings, but also only have about 30,000 total people (0.1% of the Texas population), giving a surprising 95 shootings per million population. Even with the small sample, this is statistically significantly higher than urban areas and clusters (p < .05). However, our statistical test assumes that every person shot in a county is a resident of that county — an assumption that is likely accurate in general, but any one case (or three) could be an aberration.

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Who are the officers involved in civilian shootings?

Compared to Texas officers at large, officers involved in shootings tend to be younger and male.

Note: For these and other findings, many explanations might account for the differences observed. We aim only to describe the differences and their statistical significance.

Younger officers, particularly those under age 30, are disproportionately likely to be involved in shootings (p < 0.001).

Racially, while officers in shootings are similar to officers at large, there are some small but statistically significant differences (p < .05, χ2 = 9.60). More white and hispanic officers, and fewer black and other-race officers, are reported in shootings than the general officer population.

Most striking is the gender difference. Males are 88% of the Texas police force but comprise 97% of officers found in shootings. This is highly significant (p < 0.001), especially considering that younger officers (who are disproportionately involved in shootings) are even less male than the overall police force — women comprise some 20% of new officers, but still only 3% of officers involved in shootings.

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What constitutes a custodial death?

A custodial death, or “death in custody,” is when a person dies in prison, jail, police custody, or while police are trying to arrest them. Approximately 600 people die in custody every year.

The vast majority (about 90%) of deaths in prison are from natural causes. Deaths in police custody are generally from shootings with police (“justifiable homicides”). An average of 100 people die in Texas jails each year, 26% of whom die from suicide (nearly all from hanging).

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How are jail deaths related to the type of cell?

Looking more closely at jail suicides reveals a relationship with how the inmate is housed. Deaths of prisoners in solitary cells are much more frequently caused by suicide (p < 0.001) — nearly half, versus only 20% of deaths in multiple-occupancy cells.

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Are officer-involved shootings on the rise?

We have two sources of data on civilians shot by police: Peace Officer Involved Shooting Reports (which began in September 2015 and include fatal and non-fatal shootings), and Custodial Death Reports, which were consistently collected beginning in 2005.

To count officers who are shot on the job, we can also refer to the Peace Officer Involved Shooting Reports, but in addition the Officer Down Memorial Page is a nonprofit-backed database of line-of-duty officer deaths going back decades.

The red line in the first chart shows an upward trend in state-reported shootings of civilians by police (via Custodial Death Reports) — a trend that is highly statistically significant (p < 0.001, pearson r = 0.86).

The second chart shows monthly data from the Peace Officer Involved Shooting Report, which goes back to September 2015. This report includes civilians who are shot, whether or not they are killed. This chart suggests a vague downward trend, but is not statistically significant (p = 0.24, pearson r = -0.21).

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In what ways do officers die on duty?

From the Officer Down Memorial Page, we can see that — in addition to gunfire and violence — a large threat to police officers’ lives is similar to everyday citizens: driving in a car. It’s also worth noting that the total number of deaths, about 15 per year, is small relative to the number of officers in Texas (75,000).

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How diverse is Texas law enforcement?

These charts show that newly-joined officers are more demographically diverse than officers with longer tenures. Several plausible explanations emerge here. It could be that police departments are increasingly recruiting women and minority officers. Alternatively, it could be that women and minorities quit police work at much higher rates than whites and men, leading to attrition over time.

Note that this is not data for all officers who have ever enlisted in Texas — it is data on all current officers. To answer the question definitively, we would need records for all persons who belonged to the Texas police force each year, to track when each joined and departed.

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What is the Texas Justice Initiative?

We are a nonprofit organization that collects, analyzes, publishes and provides oversight for criminal justice data throughout Texas. Co-founded by a researcher and a journalist, TJI is devoted to increasing transparency and accountability.

Data in context.

TJI is building a one-stop shop for all kinds of data related to the Texas criminal justice, starting with officer-involved shootings and custodial deaths.We aim to be a resource for all.