Are police disproportionally killing (unarmed) black men?

By Admin 2 years ago

Please note: the author affirms the goal of reducing the chance that anyone dies during a police encounter - especially black men. Also, that there are many reasons why black men encounter police at a higher rate than others including different rates of poverty and bias.

I'm an amateur painter. I recently was struck by a photo taken by John Minchillo of four men protesting the death of George Floyd in front of a burning building and decided to paint it.

I had hours to look into the eyes of the shirtless man and his literal "brothers-in-arms" and could see their pain and anger.

While the killing was tragic and worthy of (peaceful) protest, I became angry for a different reason.

These men, and many like them, have been driven to take part in increasingly violent protests because they fully and unquestionably believe that black men are disproportionally being killed by police due to police bias.
They see daily stories the media, educators and activist groups telling them this is true.

But is it true?

A part of being an agnostic is to not rely on "faith" alone to form a belief but to first examine evidence both in support and opposition.

The media and activists routinely show evidence in support that unarmed black men are being killed by police. Every few months when one occurs, we immediately are bombarded by videos and outrage. We rarely hear of white men being killed so naturally we assume that they rarely are.

Let's consider now the evidence in opposition:

According to the Washington Post database, the police fatally shot 9 unarmed blacks and 19 unarmed whites in 2019 or a ratio of 2.1 white people for every black person killed. Since there are about 4.8 white people for every black person in the US, this suggests that unarmed Blacks are about 4.8/2.1 = 2.3 times PER CAPITA more likely to be killed than Whites. However, since the number of unarmed people killed per year is very small (down by more than half since 2015), this ratio changes considerably year-by-year.

As there are about 30 times as many armed people killed by police per year than unarmed, ratios of racial differences is more stable and statistically useful.

Another article by the Washington Post shows that, armed or not, Blacks are killed also around 2.5 times PER CAPITA as Whites. Data: Black 32/Million, Hispanics 24/Million and Whites 13/Million. (Asians rarely get shot)

If we stop here, as the Washington Post does, we only know half of the story.

What they (purposely) don't say are the ratio of crime by race! (why?)

The US Office of Justice Program data shows that:

  1. Blacks are 4x more likely to commit murder (than whites)
  2. Blacks are 2.6x more likely to commit aggravated assault
  3. Blacks are 3.8x more likely to have a gun (yes, only shows arrest data... not general public)
  4. Other arrest rates are similar except for DUI (whites 14% higher per capita)

It is assumed that the number of potentially life-threatening encounters with police are roughly proportionate to the number of arrests. If so, it would be expected that Blacks have 2-4 times as many chances to be shot and killed by police. This is comparable to the 2.1 and 2.5 ratio we see above in the black/white ratio of deaths of unarmed and armed people.

This means that police are not disproportionately killing Blacks as the shooting rate per-capita disparity is more than accounted for by the number of chances that blacks get involved with the police (while doing violent things)

Why does the media and outrage only follow the shooting of unarmed black men and not white men? Can you name a single one of the 19 unarmed white men shot and killed last year? Why not?

I believe it is to maintain the false narrative that black men are especially in danger from (mostly white) police. It angers me that daily the media, I assume knowingly, repeats this for economic and political gain. Instead of pushing the false narrative, we should be focusing our energy on finding ways to reduce crime by all people and to reduce the chances the police end up killing the people they try to arrest.

Activism and championing the causes of those that are suffering is a noble and humanistic endeavour. We must also be careful to examine the facts that underlie our beliefs so not to be cause of more suffering.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of this website or its members.

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The stats do not back up any of the nonsense thats being thrown around. The number of contacts nationwide vs people killed, even people arrested each year vs people killed show the police are doing an amazing job. There are bad cases here and there but as long as you have humans doing the job it will never be perfect. The one thing I keep trying to remind people about is nobody wants people shot or even injured, it results in lawsuits and checks written. I see all these videos of people doing something they should not be doing to start with that brings them in contact with the police, and its always blame the police when things go sideways. For the critics out there, go put on the badge for awhile, go through the training, go take some calls, then come back to me and tell me how you wanna fix policing in the US.

@TheMiddleWay While I can't speak for the rest of the US, in the state I worked the training never stopped. I will agree you can never really have enough training, but after the academy there was mandatory training every year, legal updates, cdv, firearms, defensive tactics, and a variety of other classes that changed yearly. I probably got 80 to 120 hours a year of mandatory training, this did not include any hours of optional training for other classes.
This job does come with power, but there is a tremendous amount of responsibility that comes with it as well. There are people doing this job that are not well suited for it, but they tend to get weeded out quickly. I simply reject this whole premise and I go back to the stats. If you treat people with respect when you deal with them, the vast majority will give you no problems. The other small percentage are going to fight you no matter what you say or do and these are the cases where bad things happen. The narrative is now that these peoples bad choices are somehow the fault of the police officers who are called on to come deal with them.
I could go on, as this really does touch a nerve with me, but I have already gone on more than I intended to. The police are not perfect, but they never will be. I have seen numerous videos of officers shot and killed and it would amaze you how fast things go bad. This job is such a balancing act and the stats reflect how well our officers are doing but the only measure that seems to count these days are the cases that end in tragedy.

@TheMiddleWay I certainly agree you can't have too much training, but doing the job for 25 years I never felt that I did not have the training to do the job. A good bit of the recurring training is refreshers, while there are some law changes and court decisions that change policy or procedure, most of it does not. It is an interesting question none the less. I would like to see stats for these other countries and see if they fair better or worse. Then again in some of these countries they are not as concerned about civil rights.
More education is always a bonus but in law enforcement people skills are more important IMO. If I am hiring officers, they must have the gift of gab, and be able to think of their feet. A lot of calls for service can be resolved in several ways. Someone that can talk to people and be flexible in their thinking will go further than someone who shows up and just tries to bully people.
Blah, I am drifting off topic again and starting to run on, thanks for the chat sir.


Good post. As you mentioned, we must constantly question the narrative and not let emotions dictate to us.


Let's not cherry pick eh.
Apparently not true re "blacks" overall ... see Heather MacDonald and the official statistics.
More "blacks" are killed by "blacks" armed or not.

@TheMiddleWay Well, we've been over this before. Like I said let's not cherry pick for an agenda. I suggest anyone interested look at Heather MacDonald's stats. There is a group here for it.
Here is another source of information.
Also in the US, police forces vary... they are not uniform in their recruitment or procedures. The crime demographics also vary... however, overall the one thing that can be said is that more "black" people kill "black" people than police do.

@Lightman, @TheMiddleWay Even the [] says "the biases of all police officers would do little to materially reduce the total number of African-American killings" and importantly "For the entire country, 28.9 percent of arrestees were African-American. This number is not very different from the 31.8 percent of police-shooting victims who were African-Americans. If police discrimination were a big factor in the actual killings, we would have expected a larger gap between the arrest rate and the police-killing rate."


#1. If you get arrested by the Police - don't fight them - plead your case in court
#2. Police are under trained. They need more live/simulated training for stressful situations (like Navy SEALS)
#3. So, the Police need more funding not less - just like we hear the Dems always want more money for education when national test results tank


I think honestly that this “Unarmed Black” killing really only became a “thing” since Obama was elected President and decided to deliberately create Racial Unrest ... Racial Disunity ...

There may have been some of it prior to Obama but it truly got ignited by him ...
Beer Summit; The Incident where the Administration tried to make a policeman doing his job a racial issue. (The “Summit” was by way of an apology)

Trayvon Martin; “My son would look like that” (Where the Media DELIBERATELY edited the news to make it racial but the evidence fell apart) ... (NO Apology from Obama OR Media) (ALSO ... The “roots” of “BLM” )

Ferguson; “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!!!” Where a City was DELIBERATELY Allowed to be destroyed over an Outright Fabrication. (NO Apology or Effort to Offer Calming Comments by Obama who, in fact, could be said to “Fiddle as Ferguson Burned” )

Baltimore; An Accidental Death ... Where a City was DELIBERATELY Allowed to be destroyed (We need to give them “space” to Act Out) by the Mayor (NO Apology or Effort to Offer Calming Comments by Obama OR the Local Authorities who, in fact, could be said to have “Played Chamber Music as Baltimore Burned”

And there were many other instances (I include below)

I believe that this was pretty clearly intentional perhaps in an effort to fracture the Social Structure and Fabric in order to further a push towards Socialism ...

Here’s a List of “Civil Unrest” during Obama’s Tenure (from Wikipedia ... not the best source but ... Its one heck of a List.)

2009 – Riots against BART Police shooting of Oscar Grant, January 7, 120 arrested, Oakland, California

2009 – Akron riots, March 14, 2009, 7 arrested; and July 2009, unknown number arrested, Akron, Ohio

2009 – 2009 G-20 Pittsburgh summit protests, September 24–25, 193 arrested

2010 – Springfest riot, April 10, 200 police disperse crowd of 8,000 using tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and bean bag rounds, near the campus of James Madison University; dozens injured. 30–35 arrested; Harrisonburg, Virginia.

2010 – Santa Cruz May Day riot, May 1, 250 rampage through downtown Santa Cruz attacking 18 businesses, causing an estimated $100,000 in damages. 1 arrested. Santa Cruz, California.

2010 – Oakland protest riot, November 5, Police made more than 150 arrests as a crowd broke windows and knocked down fences, protesting sentence of former BART officer in shooting of Oscar Grant on New Years Day 2009; see BART Police shooting of Oscar Grant. Oakland, California

2011 – Madison Occupation. Protestors storm and occupy the Wisconsin state capitol building for 18 days.

2011 – Occupy Wall Street (Brooklyn Bridge protests). Demonstrators blocked the bridge and more than 700 people were arrested. New York, New York

2011 – Occupy Oakland Oakland protests riots. October. Protesters shattered windows, set fires, and plastered buildings with graffiti. Riot police fired heavy amounts of tear gas on the protesters.

2012 – NATO 2012 Chicago Summit, May. Conflict between riot police and protesters. Dozens of demonstrators clubbed and arrested.

2012 – Anaheim police shooting and protests, July 28. Violence erupted after multiple shootings in the neighborhood by police that included unarmed Manuel Diaz. 24 people were arrested.

2013 – Flatbush Riots, March 11, Riots in Brooklyn, New York after the death of Kimani Gray who was shot and killed by NYPD.

2014 – Bundy Standoff, April 5–May, an armed confrontation (no violence)

2014 – Ferguson unrest, (Hands Up, Don’t Shoot LIE) Ferguson and St. Louis, Missouri, August 10 and November 24. Following the shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer, protests erupt in the streets. Police respond with riot gear, tear gas, sound canons, police dogs, concussion grenades, rubber bullets, pepper balls, wooden bullets, beanbag rounds, tasers, pepper spray, and armored vehicles. Unrest occurred continuously for weeks in August, and sporadically through December, with nearly daily protests throughout the period and rioting following the non-indictment announcement on November 24. Unrest again occurred on the one year anniversary in August 2015, with dozens of arrests.

2014 – St. Louis, Missouri – October 8, police vehicle windows broken as rage at the killing of Vonderrit Myers Jr. Protests continued for days afterward, during the nearby and ongoing Ferguson Unrest.

2014 – New York, New York, and Berkeley, California – After prosecutors and a grand jury refused to indict a police officer in the death of Eric Garner, protests erupted in New York City and other cities.

2014 Oakland riots, November–December, A series of riots and civil disturbances that took place in Oakland and the surrounding area, in reaction to the events involving the Shooting of Michael Brown and later, the death of Eric Garner, Oakland, California

2014 – Berkeley, Missouri, December 23–24. Antonio Martin is shot to death by police in a St. Louis suburb nearby to Ferguson, leading to violent conflict with police, and looting.

2015 – 2015 Baltimore protests, April 25–28. Days of protests break out following the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. 34 people are arrested and 15 Officers injured after rioting and looting break out. Gray's funeral was held on April 27 and followed by further protests and looting. Governor Hogan had preemptively activated the Maryland National Guard, while the Maryland State Police had activated at least 500 officers.

2015 – St. Louis, Missouri, August 19. Conflict with police following fatal shooting by St. Louis police officers of black teenager Mansur Ball-Bey leads to deployment of tear gas then burned car, buildings, and looting. Protests continue in subsequent days with tensions remaining high.

2016 – Occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, January–February 2016. 1 killed and several dozen arrested at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon.

2016 – 2016 Donald Trump Chicago rally protest, March 11. Five people arrested and two police officers injured during a demonstration at the UIC Pavilion.

2016 – Democracy Spring rally in April. March to Washington D.C. and sit-ins lead to arrests.

2016 – 2016 Sacramento riot, June 26, A confrontation between white nationalists and left-wing counter protesters at the California State Capitol. Ten people were hospitalized for stabbing and laceration wounds.

2016 – Widespread protests erupt in response to two deaths at the hands of police, the Shooting of Alton Sterling and shooting of Philando Castile. At least 261 people were arrested in protests in New York City, Chicago, St. Paul, Baton Rouge, and other cities.

2016 – 2016 Milwaukee riots, Sherman Park, August 13–15. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, sparked by the fatal police shooting of 23-year-old Sylville Smith.

2016 – 2016 Charlotte riot, September 20–21, Protests and riots break out in response to the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott by a Charlotte police officer.

2016 – Dakota Access Pipeline protests, 411 protesters arrested. Multiple skirmishes with police, with vehicles, hay bales, and tires set on fire.

2016 – Anti-Trump protests, November 9–27. As a result of Donald Trump elected as 45th President of the U.S., thousands protested across twenty-five American cities, and unrest broke out in downtown Oakland, California, and Portland, Oregon. In Oakland, over 40 fires started and police officers were injured.

Thanks for the compilation. It also appears to point out that there's been a real movement of public unrest developing for some time and there are special interest groups who are willing to take any opportunity to create unrest without regard to the cost in death and social disruption that ensues.

But back to the topic, why are there so many people who believe such activity is acceptable. Could it be, at least in part, a result of a cultural shift driven by immigration? Not saying it is, just asking.


How about we talk about the explotion of African Americans by the African American

“Snitches get stitches or wind up in ditches”
Famous phrase of gangsters, black included.
Where is the Black Lives Matter despite extreme narcissism of black culture.

How come ethnicities have to support a culture that only values its own plight for self actualization Of group/individual superiority.

The hate a group of people have to target outsiders as its primal downfall. Yes, racism exist, and is evident in threats based off appearance, tone, and Communication. Racism is not a defined parameter. I’ve been targeted because of my skin in certain areas of cities, and it’s unjust.

This BLM is scapegoating. When you start respecting society, you become part of it. If you disrespect the population outside of your click, that population will trust your disposition. Then when that disposition becomes magnified by those who want to cause a cataclysm to society, then that click gets to ride all the way to the frontlines as they help destroy what was designed to protect.

Skin/gender are clues to social dynamics, not dictators. If you are not trustworthy, it has nothing to do with politics, class, sexuality, religion, culture.


I love you are talking about this, but I have NEVER seen a liberal do research before going off half cocked and 3/4 retarded

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