Study: Black Officers More Likely than White Officers to Shoot Suspects

Black Cop, Black Suspect AP

A new study by John R. Lott, Jr. and Carlisle E. Moody shows that black crime suspects are more likely to be shot by black cops than by white cops.

Lott is president of Crime Prevention Research Center and Moody is a professor of economics at William and Mary.

In conducting the study, Lott and Moody looked at “2,699 observations of police killings from over 1,500 cities in the United States from 2013 to 2015.”

They explained the depth of their data:

With respect to the incident, we have the race of the suspects killed (Black, White, Hispanic, other) and their age. With respect to the officer(s) involved, we have race and gender for 904 incidents. We also have data for the number of officers on the scene. We suspect that the more officers on the scene, the less likely it is that the suspect will resist. The police report, we believe, is also more likely to be accurate. With respect to the suspect, we have data on whether the suspect was involved in a violent crime, a property crime, or a drug-related crime. We also have data on whether the suspect was armed and, if so, the type of weapon (firearm, knife, vehicle, other).

They also looked at the size of the various police departments represented and the amount/type of equipment the departments possessed:

We also know whether the department uses helicopters (a proxy for militarization), the number of marked and unmarked police cars per 100,000 population, the proportion of part-time officers, whether some college education is required for new hires, and whether the police are unionized (which gives an additional layer of legal protection and job security for officers).

Other data was used as well, showing the research was thorough enough that any shortcomings with one type of data were more than compensated for with numerous other sources from different data.

The findings?

Cities experiencing police homicides have higher than average violent crime rates (578 violent crimes per 100,000 compared to 368 for the U.S. as a whole.) and violent crime rates are higher in cities where black suspects were killed (758) compared to cities in which white suspects were killed (480). The same is true for the subcategories of violent crime. The murder rate is particularly high in cities where blacks were killed by police (11.2) compared to cities in which white suspects were killed (4.6). Young black men represent a greater proportion of the population in cities that experience police killings of blacks (3.5%) compared to cities where whites were killed (1.4%). The proportion of young white men in the population is relatively constant across all cities, with an average of 5.4%.

Lott and Moody also discovered something that runs against the claims of groups like Black Lives Matter. Namely, that “black officers are significantly more likely than white officers to shoot a black suspect.” They suggest this fact may be little known because of media reporting on officer-involved shootings:

For 67 percent of the cases (1,783) the race of the officer is unknown. Only two percent of the cases involve black officers (41). This could indicate that black officers rarely fire compared to white officers. But it could also mean that the media finds it less newsworthy to report cases where a black officer rather than a white officer shoots a suspect (either because of reporters’ reluctance or lack of interest on the part of readers).

The study by Lott and Moody also brings to light various problems with crime reporting in general. They show that in many cases–such as the reporting of violent crime–people who have a fear of police also have a fear of agencies or outlets that ask them questions about crime.  Thus, they refuse to report crime and thereby skew the picture of which demographic is or isn’t most likely to fall prey to certain types of crime.

For example, “the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that whites who are below 200 percent of the poverty level face a higher violent crime rate than blacks with the same income, yet blacks still report those crimes at a higher rate.” This leads to black victims of violent crime being over represented. Ironically, “for incomes above 200 percent of poverty, blacks are more frequent victims of violent crime, but again they are still more likely to report them.”

In sum, black crime victims can appear ubiquitous because of disproportionate reporting habits.

AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of “Bullets with AWR Hawkins,” a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at


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