Most Justified Homicides Are Not Recorded in the FBI UCR

Most Justified Homicides Are Not Recorded in the FBI UCR

Arizona -( Most justified homicides, both by police and by private citizens, are not recorded in the FBI Uniform Crime Report (UCR).

The Washington post has been collecting information on fatal police shootings from published sources and social media for the last three years.

They have found that police in the United States consistently shoot and kill about a thousand people each year. Virtually all of them are justified homicides.

From the Washington Post:

For the third year in a row, police nationwide shot and killed nearly 1,000 people, a grim annual tally that has persisted despite widespread public scrutiny of officers’ use of fatal force.

Police fatally shot 987 people last year, or two dozen more than they killed in 2016, according to an ongoing Washington Post database project that tracks the fatal shootings. Since 2015, The Post has logged the details of 2,945 shooting deaths, culled from local news coverage, public records and social-media reports.

The FBI Uniform Crime Report (UCR) for 2015 reports 442 justifiable homicides by police Almost all, 441, were shootings.  In 2016, 435 justifiable homicides were recorded in the UCR by police. 429 were shootings.

The Post only records fatal police shootings, instead of justifiable homicides.

The ratio of the Post recorded fatal shootings by police  vs. the justifiable homicide shootings by police, recorded by the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, is 45 percent.

Only 45 percent of fatal police shootings are officially recorded by the FBI in the UCR.

Police have strong incentives to record justifiable shootings by their officers.

There are significant incentives to not record justifiable shootings by private citizens.

One reason is  that justification is often decided by the courts. If the shooter is charged with a crime, the shooting will be recorded as a crime, rather than as a justified homicide.  The UCR records arrests, not convictions.

Here is a recent example.

Twenty-four-year-old Alex Wittenberg was found not guilty Tuesday night of second-degree murder and first- and second-degree manslaughter in the death of 39-year-old Jonathan Puttmann. The two men fought when Wittenberg accompanied Puttmann’s estranged wife who was dropping off the couple’s children at Puttmann’s house on Nov. 15, 2016.

Wittenberg was charged with murder/manslaughter and arrested. That arrest goes into the FBI UCR as a murder. 14 months later, Wittenberg is found to have been justified, by a jury. The FBI UCR has no mechanism for retroactively changing the murder statistic to a justified homicide.

Another reason is that many justified homicides are recorded as murders under the felony murder rule.  Under the rule, people who participate in violent felonies can be charged with murder if anyone dies as a result of the felony.

If a suspect, who was justifiably shot and killed by a private citizen, had an accomplice, the accomplice may be charged under the felony murder rule. The shooting will be recorded as a murder rather than a justifiable homicide.

About 19 percent of homicides are felony homicides, so there is plenty of room for justifiable homicides to be recorded as murder under the felony murder rule.

The reporting system for the FBI Uniform Crime Report (UCR) is voluntary. Most justified homicides are not recorded.

According to studies, the FBI UCR only catches about 20 percent of the justifiable homicides by private citizens.

FBI Recorded 338 justified homicides by private citizens in 2015, and 331 in 2016.

It is likely there were 1,600 to 1,700 justified homicides by private citizens in each of those years.

2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

About Dean Weingarten:Dean Weingarten

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30-year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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By definition, a justifiable homicide is not a crime. The Uniform Crime Report only includes crimes.


Don’t know if anyone else noticed the point of aim from the leo, and depending on the rounds he’s using at that angle his pistol is pointed almost exactly in line with that approaching car off in the distance. Should he miss, and have a ricochet off the pavement, might very well go through a windshield. As far back as the perp is, looks like a few steps to the right and almost surely the round would bury itself in the hill even if it went through him. I know seconds count, but safety of others do also. just a… Read more »


I believe you may be seeing what’s referred to as a parallax view, not the true aimpoint of the Pistol.


Well done. You were far kinder in your reply than I would have been. I might have said something like, “really ? because the important part of this article is the picture ?”

Missouri Born

Even though Wittenberg got off the charges and was found not guilty he will still have an arrest record on file that will cause him problems everytime he purchases a firearm, most likely will be denied or delayed from making the purchase and walking out of the store with his new firearm the same day.


If his lawyer has any ability at all he will apply to have the record expunged. Once the court orders expungement all records of the arrest are destroyed.


in california this is not true. have a coworker that cannot purchase any more firearms after expungement. he had been purchasing firearms for years then 2 years ago during a background check
he was denied. he got a lawyer appealed to kamala harris and gov. brown for a pardon. never got an answer! the most anti-self-defense state in the union


Baloney, it can be done, he and lawyer went the wrong route. Find an attorney that know’s what they’re doing. Is expungement mandated by law if circumstances are met or is it merely a subjective call? Either way there’s a redress.

Danny L Griffin

This is vital information about the UCR. I did not know this. Thanks, Dean!

Jim Macklin

Figures don’t lie, but liars can figure. It is even worse when the figures are incomplete.


Why would you include a justifiable homicide, which is not a crime, in the Uniform Crime Report?

Costas Swampie

Here, the important part is the definitions and what import you are placing on the FBI keeping stats… then assuming that they know it all/ record it all/ their records are the holy writ for firearms histories… We know frequently that different groups use different definitions for words/ titles/ etc… So, the big take away is know your definitions… Thanks for straitening out many points… like the 2 felon/ 1 dead example… so it’s a murder because the 2nd guy was there as a felon wanna be… not a justifiable self def shoot. Also, important to note, that many Police… Read more »