This Is How Most On-Duty Cops Die

Louisiana police Officer Steven Vincent was the 78th cop killed in the U.S. this year -- and unlike most of the others, he died from a gunshot wound

Aug 24, 2015 at 6:05 PM ET

A Louisiana trooper died on Monday from a gunshot wound after tangling with a motorist whose truck was stuck in a ditch. This makes Trooper Steven Vincent the 78th police officer killed in the line of duty so far this year. The majority of those officers, however, weren’t killed by guns—the leading cause of death for police officers while on duty are vehicles.

Of the 78 officers killed so far in 2015, 35 were killed in “traffic-related” incidents, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which tracks the number of officers killed and the manner in which they died. Of this group, 23 officers were killed in “firearms-related” incidents.

This is the third year in a row where traffic-related incidents were the leading cause of death for police officers, and from January to July this year, there was a 25 percent increase from the same period in 2014.

Of the officers who were fatally shot in the first half of 2015, the leading circumstance was during a traffic stop or pursuit—four of the 18 officers killed by gunfire between January 1 and July 1 were shot during a traffic stop or pursuit. Three officers were ambushed and two were accidentally shot. The other fatal shootings occurred while the officer was doing things like serving a warrant or while involved in a tactical operation.