Kevin Gosztola, a writer for Shadowproof.com, and Paul Wright, founder and executive director of the Human Rights Defense Center, told Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear that statistics remain fuzzy because the US Justice Department (DOJ) doesn't want to be accountable for the problem.
When asked why the DOJ hasn't kept a record of how many people and what categories of people police officers shoot and kill in the United States, Gosztola said, "The basic opinion that I have… I think that it's unmistakable that they don't want to be accountable for the scale of killings going on by law enforcement in the United States."
"We know that just in our basic daily life that if you don't collect data on something, then how can you prove that it's actually taking place?" he noted. "That's the sort of perspective I think they have."
"You can say that this is all part of the system to target and oppress and keep certain marginalized groups down, but on a basic level it's just all about being able to claim that you don't have any awareness of this," he added.
What ultimately ends up happening, according to Gosztola, is that independent groups trying to keep track of these deaths are always going to have a "low-balled" number because of misreportings that they're sourcing.
The US Justice Department's failure to record numbers "illustrates the fact that no one's life matters," Wright declared.
"[For example] if you look at how they document any time a cop dies on duty… they could be sitting in their squad car, choking to death on a donut and that's being recorded as a line of duty [death]," the executive director pointed out. "Some of these [independent] databases… are only recording shooting deaths."
"[Cops] don't just shoot people, they also use tasers, peppers sprays and they beat people to death… there's lots of ways that the American police state can and does kill its citizens," he added.
"Just focusing on the shootings doesn't really capture the full level of brutality and cruelty of the American police state. In some ways, the shootings are the most sanitized ones [when you consider deaths such as Darren Rainey]."
Rainey, who was an inmate at the Dade Correctional Institution in South Florida, died in June 2012 after correctional officers allegedly "boiled" him to death by sticking him in a shower and letting hot water hit him for two hours.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.