Division of Criminal Justice Publishes 5th Annual Officer-involved Shooting Report

(Jan. 27, 2020) - The Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) Office of Research and Statistics has published its fifth annual Report of Officer Involved Shootings in Colorado pursuant to Senate Bill 15-217.

The report documents findings based on officer-involved shootings that occurred during a nine-and-a-half-year period between Jan. 1, 2010, and June 30, 2019.

SB 15-217 mandates that state and local law enforcement agencies report specific information to DCJ in the event that the agency “employs a peace officer who is involved in an officer-involved shooting that results in a person suspected of criminal activity being shot at by the officer.”  SB15-217 mandates that DCJ analyze and report the data on an annual basis. 

Between Jan. 1, 2010, and June 30, 2019, 150 law enforcement agencies reported data to DCJ. Of those, 65 agencies reported 432 shooting incidents involving 793 officers and 480 citizens.*

 

Graph of incident count by year. See article text for numbers.

Note: 2019 represents only the first 6 months of the year. 

Highlights of data findings from the report:

  • Number of incidents: From 2011 through 2015 the number of incidents increased somewhat every year, declined the following two years and increased again in 2018.

  • Gender: Most of the individuals involved were male: 93% of citizens and 95% of officers.

  • Race/ethnicity: 

    • Officers involved: 82% white, 12% Hispanic, 4% black/African American and 2% other or unknown.

    • Citizens involved: 53% white, 30% Hispanic, 13% Black/African American, and 4% were other or unknown.

  • Age: Citizens tended to be younger than officers involved in the incidents. 

    • Officers: The mean age of officers was 39.

    • Citizens: The mean age was 34; a significant portion - 35% -  were between the ages of 20-29. 

  • Basis for Contact: The majority of contacts were made in response to a call for service (56%), followed by traffic stops (13%) investigations (10%) and warrants (9%).

  • Reason for Shooting: 

    • 60% - Officer perceived an “imminent threat” to an officer or a citizen

    • 22% - Officer was shot by the citizen.

    • 15% - Officer perceived a less-than-imminent threat to the officer, another officer or a citizen. 

    • 3% - Preventing an escape or conducting an arrest.

  • Weapons: When motor vehicles are included, about 85% of citizens had a weapon, 8% had no weapon, and in 7% of cases the presence of a weapon was unknown or the data was missing.

    • 59% of citizens had a firearm, 10% were perceived to be using a motor vehicle as a weapon, and 9% had a knife or cutting instrument. The remaining weapons reported varied, including blunt objects and unknown.

    • 79% of Black/African Americans had a firearm compared to 57% of Whites and 56% of Hispanics. 

  • Injury Outcome: Citizens were killed or wounded more often than officers in these incidents.

    • Fewer than 1% of officers were killed and 8% were wounded in the incidents.

    • 49% of citizens were killed and 31% were wounded in the incidents.

The full report includes much more data, along with tables and other helpful visualizations of the data. Read the full report here: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/dcj-ors/ors-reports 

Please note that questions regarding individual incidents, data not presented here, or why agencies reported or failed to report certain information, should be directed to the individual law enforcement agencies that collected and provided the source data. DCJ can not speculate on the answers to questions regarding the incidents and source data. 

*For the purposes of the report, citizens are defined as people who are not members of law enforcement; the term does not refer to their citizenship status.