The numbers tell a different story. Like all statistics, they bounce around from year to year, but let’s go with the Washington Post’s study of police shootings in 2015. The Post found that 990 people, almost all of them men, were shot and killed by law enforcement last year. Before you start calling them victims, however, note that the Post also found that in three-quarters of these incidents, police were defending either themselves or someone else who was, at that moment, under attack. That leaves around 250 cases that were not obvious self-defense or defense of a third person. That doesn’t mean, of course, that those shootings were unjustified.
What was the racial breakdown of those who were shot by police in 2015? The largest number, 494, almost exactly half, were white. 258 were black, 172 were Hispanic, and the remaining 66 were either “other” or unknown. (Interestingly, Asians are rarely shot by police officers.)
The 258 blacks represent 26% of the total. That is about double the percentage of blacks in the American population. Is that prima facie evidence of racism on the part of law enforcement? Of course not. It is common knowledge that blacks have an unusually high rate of contact with the police, both as victims and as perpetrators. In 2012-2013, the Department of Justice found that blacks were the perpetrators of 24% of all violent crimes where the race of the perpetrator was known (in 7.8% of violent crimes, it was unknown).
Sunday, July 10, 2016
Do Police Disproportionately Shoot Blacks?
Powerline looks at the numbers: