Actual study of real data: Nope, white cops are not more likely to shoot black suspects

Headshot image of Dan Calabrese
Published by: Dan Calabrese on Monday November 21st, 2016

You've been had, America.

You know that massive rash of racist police shootings in which white officers shoot black suspects just because they're black? Right. Neither do I. Because a few overhyped videos presented by the media without context don't prove that any such thing is happening. Of course, that's not stopping gullible celebrities and athletes from protesting and declaring "this isn't right." There is no solid information to suggest that a "this" even exists, but when you're engaging in very public moral preening, you're not going to let that stop you.

But what might stop you is some actual data that proves the whole thing is a gigantic hoax. And two researchers - John R. Lott Jr. of the Crime Prevention Research Center, and Carlisle E. Moody of the Department of Economics at the College of William and Mary - now offer us that very thing:

Using a unique data set we link the race of police officers who kill suspects with the race of those who are killed across the United States. We have data on a total of 2,699 fatal police killings for the years 2013 to 2015. This is 1,333 more killings by police than is provided by the FBI data on justifiable police homicides. When either the violent crime rate or the demographics of a city are accounted for, we find that white police officers are not significantly more likely to kill a black suspect. For the estimates where we know the race of the officer who killed the suspect, the ratio of the rate that blacks are killed by black versus white officers is large — ranging from 3 to 5 times larger. However, because the media may under report the officer’s race when black offic-ers are involved, other results that account for the fact that a disproportionate number of the un-known race officers may be more reliable. They indicate no statistically significant difference be-tween killings of black suspects by black and white officers. Our panel data analysis that looks at killings at the police department level confirms this. These findings are inconsistent with taste-based racial discrimination against blacks by white police officers. Our estimates examining the killings of white and Hispanic suspects found no differences with respect to the races of police officers. If the police are engaged in discrimination, such discriminatory behavior should also be more difficult when body or other cameras are recording their actions. We find no evidence that body cameras affect either the number of police killings or the racial composition of those killings.

That's the abstract. Click the link to download the full 34-page PDF.

You will recall that recently we told you about James Comey's incredulity on the issue, citing the utter lack of any reliable statistics at the FBI to back up the popular media and social justice warrior hysteria about all these supposed racist police killings. Now Lott and Moody come forth with some actual data, and unsurprisingly, it demonstrates exacty the opposite of the media narrative.

I guess Colin Kaepernick can start standing for the national anthem again. The gigantic problem he's been protesting doesn't actually exist. He must be very relieved.

Two obvious questions come to mind:

1. Did the media really believe this phenomenon was legitimate? Or did they knowingly push the false narrative because it comports to their worldview? I'd say it's largely the former, but a little bit the latter too. They just assume racist cops are everywhere shooting black people, so the few scattered and often misleading videos are more than enough proof for them. Plus, they love racial strife because it makes for great content. The more of it, the better. 

2. Why was it so easy to convince people - or at least certain kinds of people - that this was a legitimate story? Tackling this one starts with the question of just how widely people really did believe it. For every celebrity walking around wearing a shirt that read HANDS UP DON'T SHOOT, maybe there were thousands of normal people rolling their eyes at the media's sensationalist nonsense. If the election results are any indication, the media are not as influential as they - and perhaps some of us - thought they were. But to be sure, there are certainly a lot of people out there to soak in what the media are saying without giving it much critical thought. When every story about a police-involved shooting starts with a mention of the races of the people involved, it's not surprising that some people are persuaded there's a gigantic racial problem out there.

But remember: The videos you saw were very few in number, and certainly not enough to demonstrate any sort of widespread trend. Also remember: Most of them were at least a little misleading, and much of what you intially heard turned out not to be true.

The Lott/Moody study is the first to deal in real numbers, and it completely destroys the narrative. Somehow I doubt you'll hear much coverage of this on the national news, especially while they're busy pushing the fiction that the election of Donald Trump has spawned a "rash of racist incidents" or whatever. That's sure to be proven as phony as the racist police shooting narrative, which is why you shouldn't believe anything the media tell you.

And judging from the election results, you don't.

Get Dan's three-part series of Christian spiritual thrillers! And follow all of Dan's work by liking his page on Facebook.