To the consternation of police unions, President Barack Obama said last week African-Americans were not making up concerns that they are often treated more harshly and less equitably by officers than Whites.
Now, there is new statistical evidence that lends more credence to the president’s statement. Reuters reports that new research shows the number of police officers charged in fatal shootings in 2015 has reached its highest level in a decade.
A dozen officers have been charged with murder or manslaughter this year resulting from shootings, up from an average of about five a year from 2005 to 2014, said Philip Stinson, an associate professor of criminology at Ohio’s Bowling Green State University. He sifted court records and media reports as part of research for the Justice Department on police crimes and arrests.
The 2015 number does not include six Baltimore officers facing trial for the death of Freddie Gray. The 25-year-old black man died in April from a spinal injury after he was arrested and bundled in a transport van. Four of the officers face murder or manslaughter charges.
None of the officers has been convicted, and over the previous decade just one in five officers charged was found guilty, said Stinson, a former police officer.
Indeed, more equitable treatment is needed. Stinson told Reuters that none of the officers “have been convicted, and over the previous decade just one in five officers charged was found guilty.”
And the findings only represent a sampling of killings by officers. The Washington Post reported last week that there have been “796 fatal police shootings this year, and one maintained by the Guardian newspaper recorded 927 deaths from all causes,” notes the report.
It’s not like the president needed the research to back up his statement. Social media has already amassed critical evidence in the form of countless YouTube video recordings of Black and brown victims dying in police custody in cities across the nation.
The data also flies in the face of a comment by the FBI Director James Comey, who claims that Black Lives Matter protests are inciting violence against police. In fact, the protests are helping to save Black lives, and Comey need look no further than statistics being compiled by his own agency.