COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Protestors in Colorado have spent weeks decrying the use-of-force by police, with the central concern that communities of color have been a target.
KRDO found that black and Hispanic Coloradans are at much higher risk of being shot by police than those who are white, according to data over the last decade compiled by the Colorado Department of Public Safety (CDPS).
The January 2020 report issued by CDPS includes information about what led up to the shootings, the race of those involved, and the arrests of people who are shot by law enforcement. The data didn't include reporting from every law enforcement agency in Colorado, however.
KRDO pored through pages of state data and crunched the numbers relating to 480 documented police shootings. The data for those shootings shows that from 2010 to 2019 – based on population figures -- black Coloradans were nearly four times as likely as white Coloradans to be shot at by police. Hispanic Coloradans' risk was almost twice as high as their white counterparts, according to the data.
Those statistics are not shocking to some Colorado Springs advocates who are working with the city council on creating a police oversight board.
“That statistic, you know, it’s alarming because we live in Colorado," Derrick Matthews said. "I know this is going to sound kind of morbid, I’m not surprised.”
Fifty-three percent of Coloradans shot by police were white, but white people make up 67% of the population. KRDO's findings reveal that minority populations make up a disproportionately large number of officer-involved shootings in Colorado.
“I think the reason why we have such disproportionate numbers between the races is purely just racism," Jasmine Marchman said.
The statewide reform of Colorado's new police accountability bill calls for more data collection on the use of force by law enforcement. The 2020 report by CDPS provides a vivid picture of the encounters in the past decade that led to police firing their guns.
More than half of the Colorado law enforcement shootings in the last nine years started with a call for police assistance. Traffic stops were the second most common event that led to police shootings.
Seventy-four percent of officers say they gave a verbal warning before the incident escalated to a shooting.
“Shootings are terrible. No matter what your background is," Pueblo Police Chief Troy Davenport said. "We try to avoid that the best we possibly can. But you know, the only way that occurs, for the most part, is a person has a weapon," Davenport said. "It could be a handgun, it could be the use of a vehicle or something else and they put a police officer or third party in fear of serious bodily injury or death.”
Chief Davenport doesn't dispute the statistics but believes the data is incomplete.
According to CDPS, only 27% of law enforcement agencies submitted the required data to the state. A CDPS spokesperson said there are no penalties for law enforcement agencies that don't report the data, even though there are laws mandating departments to do so.
Authorities charged 87% of citizens who survived police shootings with a crime. State records show the most common charges were murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, and assault. That data shows that 10% of black Coloradans who survived a shooting were not arrested or cited by police. CDPS reports that 8% percent of Hispanic Coloradans and 11% of white Coloradans who survived a law enforcement shootings were not arrested.
Law enforcement agencies report a weapon in 85% of officer-involved shootings. Weapons include firearms, knives and even cars, according to the state data. Fifty-three percent of citizens killed in officer-involved shootings were described as possessing a firearm, according to CDPS. Forty-seven percent of those killed in a police shooting had a non-firearm weapon.
The CDPS report shows that 79% of black people shot by Colorado law enforcement had a gun, compared to 57% of white Coloradans and 56% of Hispanic Coloradans shot by an officer.
Fifteen percent of Coloradans shot at by police in the last decade were unarmed.
At least 26 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty in the past decade in Colorado.