Study Says Black Men are Nearly 3 Times Likely to Die From Police Use of Force

A new study conducted by the American Journal of Public Health on Tuesday reveals disturbing data about how much of a racial disparity there may be in police use of force.

According to the study, Black men are nearly three times as likely to be killed by legal intervention 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 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,” he said.

Buehler 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 (WONDER) database system, which includes county-level death certificates.

The data showed 2,285 legal intervention deaths for that time period. While the data did not provide details on the circumstances surrounding the legal intervention deaths, Buehler said that they allowed for him to take a close look at how many deaths involved black, Hispanic and white males, 10 years 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 and 1.7 times higher among Hispanic men, respectively.

In other words, black and Hispanic men were 2.8 and 1.7 times more likely to be killed by police use of force than white men. White men accounted for more deaths only because they were of a larger population. Additionally, Buehler found that American Indians or Alaska Natives accounted for fewer than 2% of legal intervention deaths but had a rate similar to that of blacks.