California attorney general: Police killings database shows 'clear racial disparities'

California Attorney General Kamala Harris.
(Image credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Records released by California Attorney General Kamala Harris show that over the past 10 years, black men have been killed by police in the state at eight times the rate of other residents.

About 19 percent of the almost 1,000 homicides by law enforcement recorded between 2005 and 2014 were against black men, who only make up roughly 3 percent of California's population, The Guardian reports, and Harris said last week that the data points to "clear racial disparities." About 44 percent of people killed in police custody were Hispanic, and 30.2 percent were white. Hispanics made up 37.1 percent of California's population from 2005 to 2014, and whites made up 41.1 percent of the population. The figures show the death rate, or percentage of homicides per percentage of population, is 3.4 for blacks, 1.2 for Hispanics, and 0.7 for whites. Harris said the data also shows blacks accounted for 17 percent of total arrests and 25 percent of all deaths in custody.

Police and law enforcement agencies have been required since 2005 to submit reports to the state about deaths in custody, but the information was made accessible for the first time on Wednesday, when the Open Justice portal was unveiled. Users can search through the database to look up figures regarding deaths in custody, officers killed or assaulted, and arrest rates. Open Justice contains a "treasure trove of data," Harris said, and she wants to see people start applying the metrics. "Let's count what is happening," she said. "The bottom line is, the people have a right to know what is going on."

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.