Research conducted by a notable African-American economist at Harvard University has revealed a lack of racial bias in police shootings.
The research was conducted by Roland G. Fryer, who is the youngest black professor to have received tenure status at Harvard. As Fryer expected, his research revealed that police are more likely to use force towards an African-American suspect. However, in what Fryer called “the most surprising result of my career,” his research also revealed that African-American suspects are less likely to be shot in an altercation with law enforcement than suspects of other racial backgrounds.
According to the statistics used in Fryer’s study, officers are more likely to fire their weapons without having first been attacked when the suspect is white.
In officer-involved shootings in these cities, officers were more likely to fire their weapons without having first been attacked when the suspects were white. Black and white civilians involved in police shootings were equally likely to have been carrying a weapon. Both of these results undercut the idea that the police wield lethal force with racial bias.
Fryer’s research analyzed more than a thousand shootings in ten major police departments. Houston, Austin, Dallas and Los Angeles, as well as Orlando and Jacksonville, were among the cities included in the study.
When the law enforcement data from Houston was isolated specifically, Fryer was able to conclude that law enforcement officers were significantly less likely to shoot black suspects.
In tense situations, officers in Houston were about 20 percent less likely to shoot a suspect if the suspect was black. This estimate was not very precise, and firmer conclusions would require more data. But, in a variety of models that controlled for different factors and used different definitions of tense situations, Mr. Fryer found that blacks were either less likely to be shot or there was no difference between blacks and whites.
The conclusions drawn by this research contradict much of the narrative that is playing out in the media about police brutality. Most major media outlets have been sympathetic to the cause of Black Lives Matter, an activist movement that exists specifically to combat racially motivated aggression towards African-Americans by law enforcement officers.
Although Fryer’s research supports the claim of law enforcement’s overuse of force towards African-American suspects, his conclusion that law enforcement officers do not disproportionally discharge their firearms at black suspects should turn some heads. Perhaps the Black Lives Matter movement should be asked to reconcile these revelations with their loud response to the tragic shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castille that occurred last week.