Study: Cops kill more whites than blacks, but minority deaths generate more coverage
A study posted by a researcher at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice shows that more whites are killed by police than blacks or Hispanics but that blacks are three times more likely to die if the racial breakdown of the population is taken into account.
The study comes out as two more high-profile deaths of black men at the hands of police have generated outrage across the country. A video showing police in Baton Rouge shooting an unarmed black man outside a convenience store is already being investigated by the Justice Department. And a Facebook video of the aftermath of the shooting of a Minnesota black man is also roiling the black community.
As researchers are quick to point out, FBI data on police shootings by race is notoriously incomplete, which may explain why Peter Moskos, assistant professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York, decided to use figures from the website Killed by Police.
Based on that data, Mr. Moskos reported that roughly 49 percent of those killed by officers from May 2013 to April 2015 were white, while 30 percent were black. He also found that 19 percent were Hispanic and 2 percent were Asian and other races.
His results, posted last week on his blog Cop in the Hood, arrived with several caveats, notably that 25 percent of the website’s data, which is drawn largely from news reports, failed to show the race of the person killed.
Killed by Police lists every death, justified or not, including those in which the officer had been wounded or acted in self-defense.
“The data doesn’t indicate which shootings are justified (the vast majority) and which are cold-blooded murder (not many, but some). And maybe that would vary by race. I don’t know, but I doubt it,” Mr. Moskos said on his blog.
While not a strictly scientific approach to an analysis, as a look at raw data, it's convincing.
Mr. Moskos listed two possible reasons for the racial disparity. The first is that police assigned to largely black neighborhoods face “more political fallout when they shoot, and thus receive better training and are less inclined to shoot.”
The second is that police assigned to black communities with high crime rates are more accustomed to dangerous situations and thus are more likely to be able to resolve them without resort to lethal force.
The study confirms similar conclusions from studies done by the interest group ProPublica and by Politifact.
We know all this intuitively, but in order to crack the false narrative from Black Lives Matter, facts must be uncovered. And the facts in this case are plain: whatever racial disparity there is in police shootings, neither side appears to be targeted.