Fatal Encounters 

Fatal encounters with law enforcement, in full color.

Fatal encounters with law enforcement, in full color.

Before the deaths of Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, John Crawford and Eric Garner; before the protests, riots and looting in Ferguson, Mo.; before the grand juries, #crimingwhilewhite, #livingwhileblack and #blacklivesmatter, D. Brian Burghart saw a problem: There was no way to track, compile or analyze data showing the number of—and circumstances surrounding—people killed during interactions with police.

In mid-December 2014 Congress reauthorized an expired 2006 law requiring police departments to report incidences in which people are killed while in custody or during an arrest—but Burghart, the editor of the Reno News & Review, has already been doing the legwork.

Launched in 2012, Burghart's website—fatalencounters.org—is a nonprofit, crowd-sourced attempt to compile a state-by-state database of people killed while interacting with police.

Filing records requests and dogging officials from local police departments to the FBI, Burghart has logged hundreds of incident reports and combed through thousands more user submitted stories of police-involved deaths.

The site is updated as more reports are submitted, fact-checked and posted. As of this writing, fatalencounters.org lists 38 police-related deaths in Idaho since 2001, complete with synopses of the circumstances surrounding the incidences. What's more, Burghart has posted a number of emails he exchanged with the Idaho State Police, seeking records of deaths while in custody or during arrest. The correspondence reveals, as he writes, ISP's refusal to supply documents using reasoning that's "nothing short of Orwellian."

Follow Burghart on Twitter at @FatalEncounters.

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