Historic rates of fatal police shootings in Europe suggest that American police in 2014 were 100 times more lethal than Finnish police.
Unlike European nations, most U.S. states make it easy for adults to purchase handguns.
About 57 percent of this year’s deadly force victims to date were allegedly armed with actual, toy or replica guns. American police are primed to expect guns that make them prone to misidentifying or magnifying threats like cellphones and screwdrivers.
Racism helps explain why African Americans and Native Americans are particularly vulnerable to police violence.
More than a quarter of deadly force victims were killed in towns with fewer than 25,000 people despite the fact that only 17 percent of the US population lives in such towns.
By contrast, as a rule, in Europe the municipal police that do exist are generally unarmed and lack arrest authority.
In the US, the Supreme Court in 1989 deemed it constitutionally permissible for police to use deadly force when they “reasonably” perceive imminent and grave harm.
By contrast, the European Convention on Human Rights permits only deadly force that is “absolutely necessary” to achieve a lawful purpose. Killings excused under America’s “reasonable belief” standards often violate Europe’s “absolute necessity” standards.
For example, the unfounded fear of Darren Wilson—the former Ferguson cop who fatally shot Michael Brown—that Brown was armed would not have likely absolved him in Europe. Nor would officers’ fears of the screwdriver that a mentally ill Dallas man Jason Harrison refused to drop.