The belief that “racist police” in America “kill innocent blacks” is a hoax and was in fact debunked in April last year in the Washington Times.
An article titled “Police kill more whites than blacks, but minority deaths generate more outrage” which said that “analysis contradicts widespread views about racial targets,” definitively exposed the myth.
In the article, Peter Moskos, assistant professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York, used figures from the website “Killed by Police.”
Based on that data, 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 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,” Moskos said on his blog.
Adjusted to take into account the racial breakdown of the US population, he said black men are 3.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white men. But also adjusted to take into account the racial breakdown in violent crime, the data actually show that police are less likely to kill black suspects than white ones.
“If one adjusts for the racial disparity in the homicide rate or the rate at which police are feloniously killed, whites are actually more likely to be killed by police than blacks,” said Moskos, a former Baltimore cop.
“Adjusted for the homicide rate, whites are 1.7 times more likely than blacks to die at the hands of police,” he said.
“Adjusted for the racial disparity at which police are feloniously killed, whites are 1.3 times more likely than blacks to die at the hands of police.”
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 resorting to lethal force.
Figures on police shootings by race are thin on the ground, but Moskos’s results have some support: The investigative journalism website ProPublica came up with a similar percentage in an Oct. 10 article, reporting that 44 percent of all those killed by police were white, using FBI data from 1980 to 2012.
The fact-checking website PolitiFact concluded in August 2014 that police kill more whites than blacks after the claim was made by conservative commentator Michael Medved.
PolitiFact cited data from the Centers for Disease Control on fatal injuries by “legal intervention” from 1999 to 2011.
“Over the span of more than a decade, 2,151 whites died by being shot by police compared to 1,130 blacks. In that respect, Medved is correct,” said PolitiFact.
But PolitiFact gave his assertion a “half true” rating because whites make up 63 percent of the population, while blacks make up just 12 percent.
“Yes, more whites than blacks die as a result of an encounter with police, but whites also represent a much bigger chunk of the total population,” PolitiFact said in its Aug. 21 post.
But PolitiFact did not take into account the percentage of nonwhites involved in violent crime or shootings of police, as Moskos did.