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Study: Black Men Face Death by Police 1 in 1,000 Times, White Counterparts Comparatively Killed by Officers 1 in 2,000 Times

A new study reveals that police killings claim the lives of young Black men 2.5 as many times as they do for white men.

The findings are part of a set of data unveiled by Rutgers University surrounding the impact that police’s use of force has on the lives of American men. The study results, which were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Monday, August 5, reveal that officers’ use of fatal force is a leading cause of death among young men in the country.

“Over the life course, about 1 in every 1,000 black men can expect to be killed by police,” the significance of the study reads in PNAS. “Risk of being killed by police peaks between the ages of 20 y and 35 y for men and women and for all racial and ethnic groups. Black women and men and American Indian and Alaska Native women and men are significantly more likely than white women and men to be killed by police. Latino men are also more likely to be killed by police than are white men.”

The study reviewed the risks of death during engagements with the police, which amount to about 11,000 in the four-year time period of 2013-2017.

During that time frame, the police killings of Black men raged across the headlines. Among them were the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, whose lives were both claimed by police in 2014 as well as Alton Sterling, whom police shot and killed in 2017.

The risk for fatalities is highest for Black men, and the study notes that for non-white men, police force is among the leading causes of death. While Black men are 1 in 1,000 times more likely to be killed by police, men across the board are 1 in 2,000 times likely to meet the same fate. Women are about 20 times less likely to be killed by police. But Black women were found to be 1.4 times more likely to be killed by police than their white counterparts.

Meanwhile, American Indian men are 1.5 times as likely to die at the hands of police than white men, with the statistics being paralleled for their female counterparts. Latino men have been found to be 1.4 times more likely to be killed compared to white men and Latina women are around about 1.2 times less likely to be killed than white women.

It’s between the ages of 25 and 29 that men have the highest mortality rates when police use-of-force is considered a leading cause of death, the study found.

Study co-author Frank Edwards, assistant professor in the School of Criminial Justice at Rutgers University-Newark, put the stats in context for U.S. News & World Report.

“I want to be clear: When we talk about the leading causes, police violence trails behind some causes that are killing many, many people,” Edwards told the outlet. “Relative to all causes of death, it’s not that frequent. But police are paid government employees” who are taking these lives.

Edwards also said a database needs to be created to keep up with police killings. He also noted it should be treated as a public health issue.

“The Bureau of Justice Statistics needs to develop a comprehensive system that would track police-related deaths,” Edwards said. “We need to increase transparency of police use-of-force if we are going to decrease the number of civilian deaths in this country as a result of these encounters.”

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