This marks a pattern that Oklahoma has been following for five years, with one of the highest shooting rates in the country.
According to a report released by The Frontier in January, Oklahoma had the fourth-highest rate of fatal police shootings in the nation in 2018. 34 people were shot and killed by Oklahoma police, which comes to one out of every 110,342 Oklahomans.
On a per capita basis, only Alaska, New Mexico and Arizona experienced more fatal shootings. Put into a different perspective, only six states had a higher raw number of killings, despite Oklahoma ranking just 28th among the states in total population.
Connecticut and Delaware were the only states that recorded no fatalities from police shootings in 2018. Behind them was Massachusetts, which had one for every 2,182,606 of its citizens.
19 of the Oklahoma killings were white men, though a higher per capita percentage of black people and Native Americans were affected. Just one of the victims, a 72-year-old woman from Bartlesville who fired on officers with a BB gun while they arrested her son, was female.
Eight of Oklahoma’s fatal shootings occurred in Oklahoma City, the most of any of the state’s police forces. Tulsa police killed three people in 2018, in addition to another shooting.
Last year, Tulsa released a list of 54 “Equality Indicators” meant to demonstrate areas within the community that needed to be addressed. Ranked on a 0–100 scale, the city scored 38.93 overall, with a Race and Officer Use of Force score of just 20.
These recent shooting figures only underscore what was already perceived as a major problem within Tulsa and the state of Oklahoma at large, especially after the shooting of Terence Crutcher in 2016, which received national media attention.
2018 was the fifth year in a row in which Oklahoma saw over 20 fatalities inflicted by police, after never once exceeding that total from 2007–2013 (as far back as the Frontier’s study covered).
There is limited information available for nationwide police shooting statistics, but the United States as a whole is known to be far more deadly in this regard than most other comparable developed countries. According to data from the FBI in 2013, there were 458 justified police killings in the U.S. that year, next to eight in Germany and none at all in the United Kingdom.
It is unclear how the rate of shootings, justified or not, is progressing in the United States. FBI data shows an upward trend over the past 25 years, but according to Politifact, some or all of these numbers could be misrepresented due to local law enforcement officers not being obligated to report their figures to the federal government.
In November, the FBI announced that they would be launching a national use-of-force data collection effort to “offer a comprehensive view of the circumstances, subjects and officers involved in such incidents nationwide.” The initiative began on Jan. 1.