A new study reveals disturbing data on just how much of a racial disparity exist in police use of force, or what researchers refer to as “legal intervention.”
The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, revealed that Black men are nearly three times more likely to be killed by legal intervention than White men.
American Indians and Alaska Natives are also three times more likely to die, and Hispanic men are nearly twice as likely, the study suggests.
“It affirms that this disparity exists,” said Dr. James Buehler, clinical professor of health management and policy at Drexel University in Philadelphia, who authored the study. “My study is a reminder that there are, indeed, substantial disparities in the rates of legal intervention deaths, and that ongoing attention to the underlying reasons for this disparity is warranted.”
Researchers analyzed national vital statistics and census data on legal intervention-related deaths from 2010 to 2014, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Wide-Ranging Online Data for Epidemiological Research Database system. The data showed 2,285 legal intervention deaths for that time period.
The data didn’t provide details on the circumstances surrounding the legal intervention deaths, but Beuhler said the information allowed him to take a close look at how many deaths involved Black, Hispanic and White males, age 10 or older.
He found that, although White men accounted for the largest number of deaths, the number of deaths per million in each demographic population were 2.8 times higher among Black men.
In other words, Black men were 2.8 times more likely to die of police use of force than White men. White men accounted for more deaths only because they were of a larger population.
The study’s findings are part of a growing body of research on racial disparities in lethal use of force by police. In September, a Massachusetts court ruled
that Black men who try to avoid an encounter with Boston police by fleeing may have a legitimate reason to do so.
to read the full study.