Black Homicide Victimization in the United States

National Data

According to the FBI SHR data, in 2019 there were 7,441 Black homicide victims in the United States. The homicide rate among Black victims in the United States was 18.08 per 100,000. For that year, the overall national homicide rate was 4.79 per 100,000. For whites, the national homicide rate was 2.69 per 100,000. The Black homicide victimization rate was nearly four times the overall homicide victimization rate (18.08 per 100,000 compared to 4.79 per 100,000) and nearly seven times the white homicide victimization rate (18.08 per 100,000 compared to 2.69 per 100,000). Additional information contained in the FBI SHR data on Black homicide victimization is below.

SEX
Of the 7,441 Black homicide victims, 6,454 (87 percent) were male, 986 (13 percent) were female, and one was of unknown sex (less than one percent). The homicide rate for Black male victims was more than four times the overall rate for male homicide victims (32.49 per 100,000 compared to 7.68 per 100,00) and more than eight times the rate for white male homicide victims (32.49 per 100,000 compared to 3.88 per 100,000). The homicide rate for Black female victims was more than twice the overall rate for female homicide victims (4.60 per 100,000 compared to 1.95 per 100,000) and three times the rate for white female homicide victims (4.60 per 100,000 compared to 1.52 per 100,000).

The Black male homicide victimization rate was seven times the Black female homicide victimization rate (32.49 per 100,000 compared to 4.60 per 100,000).

AGE
Five hundred forty-six Black homicide victims (seven percent) were less than 18 years old and 153 Black homicide victims (two percent) were 65 years of age or older. The average age was 31 years old.

MOST COMMON WEAPONS
For homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 88 percent of Black victims (6,190 out of 7,056) were shot and killed with guns. Of these, 64 percent (3,935 victims) were killed with handguns. There were 493 victims killed with knives or other cutting instruments, 193 victims killed by bodily force, and 93 victims killed by a blunt object. In comparison, 67 percent of white victims and 78 percent of victims of all races were killed with guns.

VICTIM/OFFENDER RELATIONSHIP
For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 77 percent of Black victims (2,282 out of 2,954) were killed by someone they knew. Six hundred seventy-two victims were killed by strangers.

CIRCUMSTANCE
For homicides in which the circumstances could be identified, 70 percent (2,856 out of 4,102) were not related to the commission of any other felony. Of these, 56 percent (1,591 homicides) involved arguments between the victim and the offender, and 10 percent (292 homicides) were reported to be gang-related.

There were 95 incidents reported as justifiable homicides of Black victims killed by law enforcement in 2019. The SHR does not specifically identify killings by law enforcement that are not ruled justifiable. In the wake of controversial incidents of Black citizens killed by police, media reports have focused on the lack of reliable statistics on lethal incidents involving law enforcement. In December 2015, the FBI announced that it would dramatically expand its data collection on violent police encounters by 2017.4 In October 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice outlined a plan to improve the collection of law enforcement use of force data.5 The FBI has begun to release online very limited information on law enforcement use of force incidents. In addition, the agency notes that in 2021 only 7,559 out of 18,514 federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies throughout the nation participated and provided use of force data. The officers employed by these agencies represent 54 percent of federal, state, local, and tribal sworn officers in the nation.6


Back to Table of Contents

Next – Spotlight on Missouri


4 “FBI to sharply expand system for tracking fatal police shootings,” The Washington Post, December 8, 2015 (https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/fbi-to-sharply-expand-system-for-tracking-fatal-police-shootings/2015/12/08/a60fbc16-9dd4-11e5-bce4-708fe33e3288_story.html).

5 “Justice Department Outlines Plan to Enable Nationwide Collection of Use of Force Data,” Department of Justice, Office of Public Affairs, October 13, 2016 (https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-outlines-plan-enable-nationwide-collection-use-force-data).

6 Federal Bureau of Investigation, Crime Data Explorer, Law Enforcement Collections
(https://crime-data-explorer.app.cloud.gov/pages/le/uof).