University Study Finds That Black Men Are More Likely to Be the Victims of Killings by Police

According to a new study from the University of Washington and Cornell University, an average of three men are killed by police every day in the United States and that the risk of being killed by a police officer is 3.2 to 3.5 times higher for Black men compared to White men. The researchers examined data from Fatal Encounters, a source that collects data from public records and media coverage. According to the federal Bureau of Justice Statics, this source is more reliable than official reports from police departments. Official police reports showed that police related deaths accounted for 4 percent of male homicides, while the researchers found this to actually be as high as 8 percent.

The study identified 6,295 adult male victims of police homicide between 2012 and 2018. Of those victims, 2,993 were White, 1,779 were Black, 1,145 were Latino, 114 were Asian/Pacific Islander, and 94 were American Indian/Alaska Native. During this six-year period, Black men were killed at the highest rate; 2.1 per 100,000 men. Additionally, police homicides were more likely to happen in rural and suburban areas compared to large metropolitan cities.

The researchers conclude that the data indicates that structural racism likely plays a role in explaining the disparity. The full study, “Risk of Police-Involved Death by Race/Ethnicity and Place, United States, 2012–2018,” was published in the American Journal of Public Health, can be accessed here.


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