When used in print or as the battle cry in a black power rally, police brutality can by implication cover a number of practices, from calling a citizen by his or her first name to a death by a policeman's bullet.
What the average citizen thinks of when he hears the term, however, is something midway between these two occurrences, something more akin to what the police profession knows as "alley court"—the wanton vicious beating of a person in custody, usually while handcuffed, and usually taking place somewhere between the scene of the arrest and the station house.
Of the deaths classified as law enforcement homicides, 2,876 deaths occurred of which 1,643 or 57.1% of the people who died were "people of color".
Portions of the populations may perceive the police to be oppressors.
In addition, there is a perception that victims of police brutality often belonging to relatively powerless groups, such as minorities, the disabled, the young, and the poor.
Widespread police brutality exists in many countries and territories, even those that prosecute it.
Although illegal, it can be performed under the color of law.