Racial disparity in police killings : an analysis of 2014 United States lethal force data
The main purpose of this research is to create a reliable database concerning law enforcement use of lethal force and employ this database to evaluate whether evidence exists that the decision to use lethal force is impacted by micro-level (officer) race-based considerations. A new database of all lethal force incidents in the U.S. in 2014 was created using 2014: Killed by Police Data and several other websites: 2014: Intentional Lethal Force Data (Menifield and Laughlin, 2018). African American victims were overrepresented and Caucasian victims were underrepresented in police officers' use of lethal force. However, this database and analysis provide no evidence of micro-level discriminatory decision making in the deployment of lethal force by law enforcement. Further, findings do not support the argument that the decision to use lethal force by law enforcement in the U.S. is influenced by race. This research calls into question a number of prevoiusly held assumptions when exploring racially disparate outcomes in lethal force; i.e. these data show greater support for factors external to law enforcement (as opposed to internal) as contributors to disparate outcomes, and questions whether population proportion should be the comparison point for law enforcement use of lethal force.
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