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Wyoming, New Mexico Lead U.S. In Rate Of Police Killing Civilians

Last week, officers with the Farmington, N.M., Police Department responded to a call of a domestic violence incident. Police mistakenly arrived at the wrong house and shot and killed Robert Dotson, 52, after he opened his door armed with a handgun. The fatal shooting is just the latest example of police using lethal force against civilians in a state where this happens too frequently, critics say. Home to 2.1 million people, New Mexico has one of the nation's highest rates of police killings per capita, NPR reports. Last year, 32 people — around 15 people per million — were killed by police in the state, according to The project is part of Campaign Zero, a nonprofit focused on policing reform.

New Mexico is second to Wyoming, with a population of about 581,000, where around 17 people per million were killed by police. "Who would have thought New Mexico would have one of the highest rates in the country?" said Prof. Howard Henderson, founding director of the Center for Justice Research at Texas Southern University. In New Mexico, the rate of police using lethal force is higher if a Black resident is involved. Black people total around 2.7% of the state's population, yet they are nearly four times more likely to be killed by police than white people. Years of high-profile cases of Black people killed by police across the U.S. show this is an ongoing problem due in part to racial bias in policing. Critics of police response in New Mexico say a bigger gun culture in the state compared to much of the rest of the country and lax police training play a role in the high incidence of police killings. The death in Farmington "and others like it make clear the urgent need for statewide police reform," said Barron Jones of the American Civil Liberties Union.


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