Black men in the US are nearly three times as likely to be killed in an encounter with the police as white men

Three times as likely.
Three times as likely.
Image: Reuters/ Jonathan Bachman
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So far this year, 922 people were shot and killed by the police in America. Nearly all of those people were men. Nearly half of those victims were white, while a quarter were black, reports the Washington Post. That sounds good until you account for the fact that, according to the 2015 census, just 13.3% of the US population identifies as black or African American. White people make up 77.1% of the population.

In yet another example of how police violence in America disproportionately impacts black men, a new study (paywall) found that black men, who are 10 years or older, are nearly three times as likely to die in an encounter with the police as white men.

The study, led by James Buehler, a public health and policy professor at Drexel University, was published today (Dec. 20) in the American Journal of Public Health. Using national death records from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention database from 2010 to 2014, Buehler found that black males were 2.8 more like to die as result of law enforcement action as white males. Hispanic males, meanwhile, were 1.7 times as likely to be killed in similar situations than their white counterparts.

During those five years, 2,285 deaths were attributed to law enforcement action—defined, according to the study, as deaths resulting from “injuries inflicted by the police or other law-enforcing agents, including military on duty, in the course of arresting or attempting to arrest lawbreakers, suppressing disturbances, maintaining order, and other legal action.” Of these deaths, all but five were 10 years or older, and 96% were among males.

Buehler’s study looked at at deaths in this situation for men 10 years or older, broken down by race and ethnicity. White men were killed in police encounters at a rate of 2.5 per million in US population per year, Hispanic men at 4.1 per million, and black men at 6.8 per million. (Nationwide—including all ethnicities and including women—the rate was 1.5 deaths per million per year.) Men who identified as Asian or Pacific Islander were killed at the lowest rate at 1.5 per million. Meanwhile, American Indians and Alaska Natives, who accounted for only 2% of the total legal intervention deaths per year, had a high rate—even higher than black men—of 6.9 per million.

Most disheartening of all is that this is just a continuation of a long-term trend in the US. A 2015 study carried out by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health looked at US deaths due to legal intervention among black and white men between the ages of 15 and 34 from 1960 to 2010 and found that, over that span of time, black men were 2.5 times as likely as white men to die due to legal intervention.