Racial Bias in Police Shootings Not What You'd Expect, Shows Controversial New Study

A new study by a Harvard University economist shows surprising results about whom the police are actually more likely to shoot.

As the police brutality debate has dominated the hearts and minds of Americans (sudden Pokémon Go diversion notwithstanding), a new study has come out that shows some unexpected results. While it shows a racial bias in how the police use force, this doesn't seem to be the case with regards to shootings.


The study was conducted by the Harvard University economist Roland G. Fryer Jr., an African-American, who said it produced "the most surprising result of my career." His team studied over 1,300 police shootings in 10 major police departments over the 2000-2015 span.

The study concluded that blacks and Hispanics were "more than fifty percent more likely to experience some form of force in interactions with police," but no such differences exist in officer-involved shootings.

When encountering a suspect, police officers were about 16-19% more likely to use their hands on the suspect, push the person into a wall or to the ground, use handcuffs, and draw their weapons, if the suspect was black. They were also 24-25% more likely to point their weapons or use pepper spray or batons on a black suspect.

Surprising new evidence shows racial bias in police use of force--but not in shootings. https://t.co/8UCHMVpJBh pic.twitter.com/Uclx2SbjOZ

— The Upshot (@UpshotNYT) July 12, 2016

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