2023 Undergraduate Research Showcase


"The Right to Feel Afraid": What are the Common Precursors of Deadly Force?

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Lisa Bostaph


The purpose of this research is to determine what common variables exist in a situation where a police officer must use deadly force. There has been a growing mistrust between the community and police agencies regarding deadly force being exercised in situations that appear, to citizens, to not need deadly force in order to neutralize a threat. In 2018, the US Bureau of Justice Statistics reported 3.3% of the estimated 30.2 million Americans who have police-initiated contact have experienced police use of force. Out of the 3.3 % (an estimated 996,000), 48% perceived the use of force to be excessive (Boxer et al., 2021). The study explores the common precursors to police use of deadly force. This research will be conducted by analyzing the Fatal Force data set that have been collected between 2015 and 2022 by the Washington Post. The data contains several variables of interest, such as if the victims were armed, the victim’s mental health state, the manner of death, and the threat level. This research predicts that an officer is likely to use deadly force in a situation where there is potential danger.

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