ARE POLICE OFFICERS MORE LIKELY TO KILL AFRICAN-AMERICAN SUSPECTS?1

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Abstract

In recent psychological research decisions by police officers to shoot criminal suspects are often assumed to be racially biased, and it is concluded that officers are more likely to shoot African-American suspects. This assumption was tested with national data on persons killed during legal interventions and with data bearing on the African-American proportion of criminal suspects law enforcement officers face. Analysis indicates that the African-American share of persons killed by law enforcement officers, while higher than the African-American percentage of the U.S. population, is lower than one would expect based on the estimated African-American proportion of suspects confronted in violent encounters or the African-American percentage of suspects who kill police officers.

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