Police have fatally shot at least 135 unarmed Black people in US since 2015: report

Police have fatally shot at least 135 unarmed Black people in US since 2015: report
© Getty Images

An NPR investigation published Monday found that at least 135 unarmed Black men and women in the United States have been killed by police since 2015. 

NPR’s findings showed that the majority of officers involved in the shooting deaths of unarmed Black men and women, 75 percent, were white. Several officers were convicted of crimes but still kept their jobs, according to the report.

The NPR report focuses on several specific cases, including two involving former Vallejo police officer Ryan McMahon.


In a 2018 incident, McMahon, who is white and was a police rookie at the time, fatally shot Ronell Foster, 33, after he initially stopped Foster for riding his bike without lights, and for weaving in and out of traffic. Foster, who was Black, was on community supervision for a car theft conviction at the time and eventually fled the scene, according to NPR. 

Foster, now on foot, was eventually jumped on by McMahon after a chase. McMahon tasered Foster and struck him several times with his flashlight, NPR reported, before seven shots were fired, killing Foster, who was unarmed.

NPR reported that the Solano County district attorney did not bring charges against McMahon because the shooting was justified and Foster "posed an immediate and extreme threat" to McMahon. 

McMahon was involved in another fatal police shooting a year later when six police officers were called to a Taco Bell where a man was slumped over the steering wheel of his car, which was blocking the restaurant's drive-thru.

The man was Willie McCoy, who was driving a silver Mercedes CLS500 and had fallen asleep. One officer on the scene spotted a semiautomatic pistol in McCoy's lap, according to the NPR report.

The police on the scene ended up firing 55 shots at McCoy, killing him, after he moved his hand while waking up. The police said they believed he was reaching for his gun; an expert hired by the city to look into the incident, according to NPR, concluded he was scratching his chest. The 55 shots were fired in 3.5 seconds.


McMahon said he believed he was in danger and was also cleared by officials in that shooting, though he was later fired for "engaging in unsafe conduct and neglect for basic firearm safety," a department official said told NPR.

NPR notes in its findings that 19 of the officers involved in the shooting of unarmed Black men and women were rookies, as McMahon was when he fatally shot Foster, with one officer only on the force for about four hours.

Also like McMahon, at least 15 of the officers were found to have been involved in more than one fatal shooting of a Black man or woman.

In total, the killings have resulted in at least 30 judgments and $142 million in settlements with dozens of claims still pending.