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Meth, Guns And Aggressive Tactics Combine To Give Colorado One Of Nation’s Highest Police Shooting Rates

Colorado law enforcement authorities shot someone, on average, once a week for the past six years.

The 189 people who were killed by law enforcement officers between the start of 2014 and the end of 2019 gave Colorado the nation’s 5th highest rate for fatal law enforcement shootings. The number of annual fatal shootings by law enforcement in the state almost doubled between 2014 and 2018.

“It’s rather embarrassing, actually, to hear this,” said State Sen. John Cooke of Weld County, who passed a bill in 2015 to boost transparency around shooting investigations. “Until we put all the bad guys away, it’s always going to be a problem.”

Most of those shot were white, male, high on drugs — often methamphetamine — or alcohol and carrying a weapon. In many cases, the families they left behind blame police for failing to find an alternative to deadly force. But as armed assaults on police have risen, suspects often leave them with little choice.

In all but two of the 309 cases in six years, officers’ actions were legally justified by district attorneys or grand juries.

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