Police shootings: black victims 2x as likely to be unarmed as whites
Researchers led by a group from the University of Louisville analyzed data on 990 deadly police shootings from 2015 to understand the role race and bias play in fatal police encounters. By examining the race of unarmed victims, the researchers hoped to see if police were more likely to perceive members of different racial groups as more threatening than others. They found that in 2015 there were half as many black victims of fatal police shootings as white victims, but of those victims, there were more unarmed black victims than unarmed white victims.
“Black suspects were more than twice as likely as white suspects to have been unarmed,” Justin Nix , an assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of Louisville and one of the leaders of the study, told the International Business Times. “And that’s after we controlled for things like mental illness, threat level, age, etc.”
A shooting of an unarmed person could be considered a threat perception failure on the part of the police, Nix said. Police shoot unarmed people when they fail to accurately assess a threat, which could be due to implicit racial bias, or bias that arises from subtle unconscious assumptions, as opposed to overt racism.
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