In Light of ‘Black Men Killed by Police’ Protests, Study Confirms Racial Disparities on Use of Lethal Force

black men killed by legal intervention
Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) investigators process the scene of where a St. Anthony police officer shot and killed 32-year-old Philando Castile in a car near Larpenteur Avenue and Fry Street in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, on July 6, 2016.

The problem on racial disparity in the police’s use of force is real. Actual cases of black men killed by police in shootouts in the United States in 2016 have become a sensitive issue.

While many people show willful denial or indifference for it, it has spawned a movement and new rounds of protests across the U.S.

There may be valid reason for the tumult. A recent study authored by Dr. James W. Buehler, published in the American Journal of Public Health, confirmed the substantial disparities in the rates of deaths arising from police force, otherwise called legal intervention.


Dr. Buehler, clinical professor of health management and policy at Drexel University in Philadelphia, specifically cited that black and Hispanic men were 2.8 and 1.7 times more likely to be killed by police use of force than white men.

American Indians or Alaska Natives also are nearly three times as likely and Hispanic men are nearly twice as likely, the study uncovered. White men accounted for more deaths only because they were of a larger population. The disparity was disclosed after looking at death certificates.

A similar study published in November 2015 in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology cited that relative to white targets, participants surveyed were quicker to shoot armed black targets.


Amidst the uproar by the black community in the U.S. over recent deaths of black men in the hands of the police, some quarters have assessed the circumstances surrounding the legal intervention deaths.

Jack Glaser, a professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, noted that the strong implicit associations made between blacks (and probably Hispanics) and weapons, crime and aggression may be a strong factor. He opined that even police officers who mean well may be prompted to shoot black targets at the scene of a crime because of the associations that reside outside conscious awareness.

Glaser, who wrote the book, Suspect Race: Causes and Consequences of Racial Profiling added that police officers are only human, and during trying situations that require use of force, they experience normal reactions of anger, fear, anxiety, setting the stage for more spontaneous mental processes that gain the upper hand.

In any case, the incidences of more lives of black men being snuffed out by the police force, vis-a-vis other law transgressor-targets of a different race, remain an ongoing problem in the U.S. Citizens and human rights advocates wonder what the next steps under the Donald Trump Administration may be.


In other news, two Italian police officers Cristian Morio and Luca Scataare were lauded for shooting and killing terror suspect Anis Amri during an attack on a busy Christmas market in Berlin this December. CNN tweeted how the Italian police forces were hailed as heroes after they identified and neutralized Amri.  There is a video of the 24-year-old Tunisian man pledging allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

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