California attorney general counts deadly arrests

New data portal is part of A.G.’s criminal justice transparency initiative

In California, Latinos were the most likely to be killed by law enforcement at the time of arrest in 2014, according to a new data portal from the California Department of Justice.

The data portal, titled OpenJustice v1.1, went live February 17, and is part of Attorney General Kamala Harris’ criminal justice transparency initiative, according to a release from her office. The OpenJustice portal publishes new and previously available information at a city, county and state level in a dashboard format with multiple pull-down options for tailoring the data. Topics include crime, arrest and clearance rates; law enforcement deaths and injuries; and deaths in custody.

Regarding the latter category, 82 people died as a result of homicide by law enforcement in 2014, the most recent year for which data is available at a statewide level. Nearly half (49 percent) were Hispanic. Another 28 percent were white, while 18 percent were black. Approximately 5 percent were Asian or Pacific Islander.

Hispanics and blacks were both overrepresented in law-enforcement deaths, compared to their shares of the state population. Hispanics make up 37 percent of Californians, while only 6 percent of the state is black.

Whites (41 percent of the population) and Asian/Pacific Islander residents (13 percent) were underrepresented in law enforcement homicides.

But homicide was a more likely cause of death than any other at the time of arrest for most of California’s racial groups.

For the 45 white subjects who died during arrest the same year, homicide by law enforcement was the cause of 51 percent of them. The next leading manner of arrest-related deaths were equally split between “pending investigation” and accidental, both representing 18 percent.

Of the 33 black men and women who died during arrest in California during 2014, 46 percent resulted from homicide. Another 24 percent died from accidental causes.

Arrest-related deaths of black subjects were the result of homicide 72 percent of the time during the nine-year period through 2014.

When considering only Sacramento County sheriff’s and police departments, there were 13 custody-related deaths in 2014, though the Elk Grove and Galt police departments didn’t submit data. Seven deaths were the result of homicide, including three white individuals, two who were Hispanic and one who was black.