EL PASO, Texas (KTSM)- A professor of public health sciences at the New Mexico State University, Jagdish Khubchandani, co-authored a recent study that found the rate of Hispanic people killed by law enforcement officers spiked by more than 40% between 2010 and 2020, while the population of Hispanics grew by about 18% over the same period.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Community Health, also showed the deaths grew by an average of 4% each year.

“Most research on lethal force usage by law enforcement officers has focused on deaths using firearms and among other racial/ethnic groups, but we did not know much about the nature and extent of the killing of Hispanics,” said Khubchandani. 

For the study, Khubchandani and his co-author, James H. Price of the University of Toledo analyzed a decade of mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to understand the trends of fatal law enforcement encounters among Hispanic people.

The study found 1,158 Hispanics were killed or had a deadly encounter with a law enforcement officer between 2010 and 2020. A majority, 96.2%, were males.

Additionally, the findings show 89.9% were killed by a firearm, 66.9% were between 20 and 39 years old and 66.9% were from the western U.S.

The study also found the death rate for Hispanics killed was 1.33 times higher than non-Hispanic whites. Overall, the deaths resulted in a loss of more than 50,000 years of potential life.

“These are preventable causes of death. As a society, we must work with law enforcement officials to reduce these deaths,” Khubchandani said.

New Mexico was among the top three states with the most Hispanics killed by law enforcement officers, the study shows. It reported 98 between 2010 and 2020, while Texas and California had 144 and 462, respectively. New Mexico also highest death rate per 100,000 people, ahead of Colorado and Nevada.

“Surprisingly, when we considered rates per 100,000 people, New Mexico had 1.02 deaths, while Colorado had 0.49 deaths and Nevada had 0.31 deaths,” Khubchandani said. “Given these numbers and the finding that the western U.S. had the most deaths, we should focus on the border and the Mountain West regions. Overall, more than two Hispanics die every week due to fatal encounters with law enforcement officials.”

The new study builds on previous research conducted by Khubchandani. In 2021, he co-authored a major national study on fatal police violence by race and state over 40 years.

Khubchandani’s study estimated that more than 5,000 Hispanics were killed by law enforcement officers between 1980 and 2019. The study found that half of the deaths were misclassified. Furthermore, the death rate for Hispanics was higher than the rate for whites every year from 1980 to 2019. 

“Another major issue is the lack of accurate data, proper classification of deaths, and a comprehensive understanding of the circumstances around these deaths,” Khubchandani said. “There is a need for greater research on fatal violence by law enforcement officers.”

Khubchandani said some interventions have been proposed to reduce deaths by law enforcement officers, but most need greater research to understand their effectiveness.

The interventions include hiring more college-educated, female and full-time law enforcement officers; reconsidering over-policing Black and brown communities; having non-police front-line responders for mental health emergencies; increasing citizen memberships on law enforcement officer disciplinary boards; and using less lethal means such as Tasers and chemical sprays. 

“Public health practitioners and policymakers should help develop and implement policies to curtail the rising tide of deaths among Hispanics due to fatal encounters with law enforcement officers,” Khubchandani said. 

To read the study visit here.