The Washington Post reports on a new study that suggests racial bias motivates police to fatally shoot black suspects at a disproportionally high rate.  That study, entitled “Fatal Shootings By US Police Officers in 2015: A Bird’s Eye View,” is published in the once well-respected scientific journal Nature.

The first alarm bells went off for me when I noted the source of the “data” used for this “study”:  journalists from the Washington Post itself, as well as the left-wing UK newspaper, The Guardian.  As we’ve seen in the past, “data” collected by journalists is rarely worth the paper it’s printed on, not surprising given their generally utter lack of expertise in the subject being covered.

We covered a recent example of such “journalism data” in a paper that claimed to address the implications of Florida’s “Stand-Your-Ground” law.  In fact, the study’s authors conceded that they did not address the actual “Stand-Your-Ground” statute at all, but merely a journalist’s mistaken understanding of that law.  You can see our coverage of that debacle of faux science here:

New “Scientific” Stand-Your-Ground Study Is Ignorant of the Law

 Stand-Your-Ground Racial Bias Study used “media definition,” not “legal definition”

Social Sciences Study of Stand-Your-Ground Strikes Out

Stand-Your-Ground Study Authors Concede They Didn’t Study Stand-Your-Ground

I haven’t yet had the opportunity to read this newest study.  Fortunately, it’s so defective on its face that reading it is unnecessary to determine the time spent would be wasted.

What is this so obvious defect, you ask?  From the Washington Post’s own reporting:

Researchers said they conducted the study to better understand how to reduce the shootings by police of unarmed people. They said, however, that The Post data has limitations — it covers one year only and did not include information about non-fatal shootings by police. (emphasis added)

Insanely, the study excluded from consideration police shootings that did not result in the death of the suspect.

It should not need to be stated that there exists a factor utterly outside police conduct that is likely to strongly influence whether a police shooting ends up being fatal or not–the timeliness and quality of the medical care provided the shot suspect.

Black people tend to live in impoverished communities in vastly disproportionate numbers relative to white people.  Is it possible that the critical care facilities in these communities is not to the standard of such facilities in white communities?  Is it possible that even if the facilities were at the same standard, their use may be overtaxed relative to white communities, given the far greater rates of violent crime found in black communities relative to white communities?  Might it not then be the case that the disparity in fatal police shootings is largely a function of disparate access to effective critical medical care, rather than police decision making?

This study couldn’t possibly know, because they didn’t even bother to ask these most obvious questions.

It should also be noted that almost all police shootings of suspects involve the use of handguns, and that the vast majority of handgun shooting victims survive their injuries.  By excluding survivors of police shootings, then, these study authors have effectively excluded the vast majority of police uses of firearms on suspects.  This is reflected in the pathetically low number of cases from which this study draws its “conclusions.”

Interestingly, the Washington Post itself did not report on the absolute number of cases covered by the study.  Curious that.  Instead, these figures are found in online news report, ‘Threat and shooter bias’: Study shows US police fatally shoot unarmed black men in greater numbers:

Black men accounted for 40 percent of the 93 fatal police shootings of unarmed people in 2015, according to a new study from the University of Louisville and the University of South Carolina.

According to the report, 38 of those killed were black men, 32 were white, and 18 were of Latino descent.

That’s right:  this purportedly “scientific” paper published in Nature is based upon fewer than 100 shootings by police of suspects.  To put this in context, there have been nearly 140 people shot and killed so far this year–in the City of Chicago alone.

Finally, another obvious flaw of this study is its choice of unarmed suspects, as if the suspect being unarmed indicates that the police use of deadly force was unjustified.  Putting the lie to this supposition is no more difficult than recalling the cases of Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin.  Both of these young black men launched vicious, if “unarmed,” attacks on their victims, both were shot and killed by their victims, and both victims were found to have acted lawfully after thorough investigation.

Oofah. What the Progressive left has done to science, bending it beyond the breaking point to advance their political ideology, is truly one of their greatest sins.

–-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense


Attorney Andrew Branca and his firm Law of Self Defense have been providing internationally-recognized expertise in American self-defense law for almost 20 years in the form of blogging, books, live seminars & online training (both accredited for CLE), public speaking engagements, and individualized legal consultation.
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