Many of the conversations regarding police shootings fail to address the threat level to police officers and the need to make this an integral part of the conversation. It should be noted that the WAPO database only lists an assailant as attacking an officer at the moment an officer discharges a firearm; it neither takes into account actions prior to the shooting nor the history of the person and the threat that person brings to an interaction with an officer and civilians.
The shooting of Phillip Rhoades in West Virgina in 2017 happened after an initial attempt to serve multiple warrants on Rhoades who faced 22 charges and was living at “a home without the owner’s permission.” He used at least 4 stolen vehicles on July 25, 2017 to escape officers and attempted to attack an officer with a stolen truck. In a later and similar pursuit on August 2, 2017, Rhoades used a stolen vehicle to evade police before a foot chase that led to the shooting death of Rhoades. His threat level in the WAPO database is listed as “other,” and his “armed” status is blank.
In the recent shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo, the WAPO database lists the threat level of Toledo as “other” and his “armed” status as “undetermined,” despite later reports that showed Toledo possessed a weapon within a second of the fatal shooting. It is one of the reasons armed and/or attacking an officer numbers are likely understated by the WAPO database and GIBM analysis. (GIBM did not change any of the information from the WAPO database even in instances when the status could have been changed.)
Although some challenges could be made to the way the Washington Post determines the “armed” and “threat level” categories, the GIBM analysis and WAPO database numbers are high enough to show police-shooting-deaths occurred in situations where the person killed possessed a weapon and/or was attacking an officer at least 94% of the time. Police-shooting-deaths are directly related to high level threats to policers officer and civilians.
On April 29, 2021 Officer Keith Heacook was beaten to death by a 30 year old male after Officer Heacook responded to a call regarding the apparent assault of an elderly couple. Lieutenant Michael Boutte was shot and killed after responding to a call on February 1, 2021. Each month police officers are feloniously killed and the threat levels are hardly part of the mainstream narrative.