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Newspaper Reports US Police Kill 2 People a Day

FILE - Rev. Arthur Prioleau holds a sign during a protest in the shooting death of Walter Scott at city hall in North Charleston, S.C., Wednesday, April 8, 2015. Scott was killed by a North Charleston police officer after a traffic stop.

A prominent U.S. newspaper says police in the United States are killing people at a rate of more than two per day this year.

The Washington Post says 385 people have been killed nationwide by police in the first five months of 2015. The newspaper said at that rate, police will have shot and killed nearly 1,000 people by the end of the year.

The Washington Post is tracking the killings at a time of intense debate about the use of lethal force by law enforcement.

The newspaper says its tally of fatal police shootings is twice the rate of shootings counted by the federal government during the past decade. Police departments are not required to report their fatal incidents to the federal government.

"We are never going to reduce the number of police shootings if we do not begin to accurately track this information," Jim Bueermann, a former police chief and president of the Washington-based Police Foundation told The Washington Post.

The Post's tracking of the police shootings comes amid a national outcry about the deadly force police use, especially in African-American communities and other minority communities.

Included among The Post's findings were that half the victims were white, half were minority. But the newspaper said the demographics "shifted sharply" among unarmed victims, two-thirds of whom were black or Hispanic. The Post said blacks were killed at three times the rate of whites or other minorities.

More than 80 percent of the victims were armed with "potentially lethal objects," according to the report, while 49 people did not have a weapon.

The report said while police are only authorized to use deadly force when they fear for their lives or the lives of others, so far this year just three of the 385 fatal shootings have resulted in an officer being charged with a crime.

The Washington Post said its findings this year "mirror" an investigation the paper conducted earlier in the year that of the thousands of fatal police shootings during the past decade, only 54 had produced criminal charges. "Typically, those cases involved layers of damning evidence challenging the officer's account," the report said.