According to the FBI SHR data, in 2020 there were 9,753 Black homicide victims in the United States. The homicide rate among Black victims in the United States was 23.41 per 100,000. For that year, the overall national homicide rate was 6.03 per 100,000. For whites, the national homicide rate was 3.24 per 100,000. The Black homicide victimization rate was nearly four times the overall homicide victimization rate (23.41 per 100,000 compared to 6.03 per 100,000) and seven times the white homicide victimization rate (23.41 per 100,000 compared to 3.24 per 100,000). From 2019 to 2020, the Black homicide victimization rate increased by 29 percent (from 18.08 per 100,000 in 2019 to 23.41 per 100,000 in 2020). The rate of 23.41 per 100,000 in 2020 was the highest Black homicide victimization rate in the 17-year history of this study. Additional information contained in the FBI SHR data on Black homicide victimization is below.
Of the 9,753 Black homicide victims, 8,398 (86 percent) were male, 1,352 (14 percent) were female, and three were 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 (41.92 per 100,000 compared to 9.83 per 100,00) and more than eight times the rate for white male homicide victims (41.92 per 100,000 compared to 4.84 per 100,000). The homicide rate for Black female victims was more than twice the overall rate for female homicide victims (6.25 per 100,000 compared to 2.32 per 100,000) and nearly four times the rate for white female homicide victims (6.25 per 100,000 compared to 1.66 per 100,000).
The Black male homicide victimization rate was more than six times the Black female homicide victimization rate (41.92 per 100,000 compared to 6.25 per 100,000).
Seven hundred thirty Black homicide victims (eight percent) were less than 18 years old and 225 Black homicide victims (two percent) were 65 years of age or older. The average age was 32 years old.
MOST COMMON WEAPONS
For homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 89 percent of Black victims (8,285 out of 9,297) were shot and killed with guns. Of these, 58 percent (4,776 victims) were killed with handguns. There were 603 victims killed with knives or other cutting instruments, 241 victims killed by bodily force, and 88 victims killed by a blunt object. In comparison, 70 percent of white victims and 80 percent of victims of all races were killed with guns.
For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 76 percent of Black victims (2,734 out of 3,585) were killed by someone they knew. Eight hundred fifty-one victims were killed by strangers.
For homicides in which the circumstances could be identified, 78 percent (3,837 out of 4,939) were not related to the commission of any other felony. Of these, 49 percent (1,868 homicides) involved arguments between the victim and the offender, and 13 percent (516 homicides) were reported to be gang-related.
There were 80 incidents reported as justifiable homicides of Black victims killed by law enforcement in 2020. The SHR does not specifically identify killings by law enforcement that are not ruled justifiable. In the wake of ongoing 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 2017.1 In October 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice outlined a plan to improve the collection of law enforcement use of force data. The FBI has begun to release online very limited information on law enforcement use of force incidents. In addition, the agency notes that in 2022 only 9,712 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 69 percent of federal, state, local, and tribal sworn officers in the nation.2
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- “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).
- Federal Bureau of Investigation, Crime Data Explorer, Law Enforcement Collections (https://cde.ucr.cjis.gov/LATEST/webapp/#/pages/le/uof).