Floyd was just one of the many Americans killed by police officers each year. But in other developed countries, such incidents are rare.
Statistical comparisons show that police in the US typically shoot, arrest and imprison more people than similarly developed nations.
Each nation listed below either accompanies the US in the G7 group of the world’s most advanced economies, or is ranked similarly on global wealth, freedom and democracy indexes. But when it comes to policing and criminal justice, the US is a noticeable outlier, and black Americans are disproportionately affected.
Data on arrests, deaths and prison populations do not exist uniformly across developed countries, so it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly how the US fares in comparison to every nation. For instance, it is impossible to know exactly how many people die at the hands of police officers in the US each year: no single, nationwide database that contains such information exists.
“We can’t have an informed discussion, because we don’t have data,” former FBI Director James Comey told the House Judiciary Committee in 2015. “People have data about who went to a movie last weekend … and I cannot tell you how many people were shot by police in the United States last month, last year, or anything about the demographics. And that’s a very bad place to be.”
We are therefore forced to rely on estimates — but even they paint a stark picture.
American police also shoot more people than forces in similarly developed countries.
Comey’s comments to the House Judiciary Committee illustrate the FBI’s own acceptance that their number does not tell the full story. Nonetheless, even the FBI’s figure dramatically dwarfs that of many other countries, where police shootings are highly isolated incidents. And police in New Zealand and the UK (except Northern Ireland) do not routinely carry firearms.
Americans are also more likely to be arrested or jailed than their peers worldwide.
A total of 10,310,960 arrests were made in the US in 2018 — that’s one arrest made per every 32 American citizens. Those figures give the US a far higher arrest rate than the UK or Australia, among others.
Of those confronted or arrested by police, black Americans are more likely to be subjected to force — a key complaint of the protesters marching across the US.
In general, more Americans are subjected to the cogs of the criminal justice system than in many other countries; and more end up in prison, too.
Black Americans make up a third of the US prison population, despite only making up around an eighth of the country’s total population.
The available data paints a clear and concerning picture — and explains why policing and justice reform have been rallying cries of protesters for so long.
CNN’s Sergio Hernandez contributed to this report.