While statistics show that about half of criminal suspects shot and killed by police in the U.S. are white, with only about 25 percent being black, the dominant media rarely find any examples of whites being shot to be worthy of attention,
But, on Wednesday night, on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360, correspondent Randi Kaye did take time to file a full report on a new Harvard study of select police departments which suggests not only that blacks are not more likely to be shot than whites, but that whites are more likely to be shot in cases when the police are not attacked by suspects first. Kaye: "When it comes to more extreme force in officer-involved shootings, the study found no racial difference at all. In fact, officers were more likely to fire their weapons without having first been attacked if the suspects were white, weakening the argument for racial bias in the use of lethal force."
After recalling the cases of a white man shot when he tried to drive away from a drug bust, and another white man shot on his doorstep, Kaye relayed findings that police are, in fact, more likely to engage black suspects with "nonlethal force" as compared to whites, even if blacks are not more likely to be killed.
After the report, as he introduced a discussion with CNN commentator Charles Blow, Anderson Cooper recalled Washington Post data that black suspects are shot and killed at "three times the rate" as whites, but did not clarify that it is still the case that twice as many whites are shot and killed compared to blacks. Cooper:
Well, the study's findings surprised a lot of people and sparked as lot of controversy. They're at odds with a database of police shootings maintained by the Washington Post which shows that last year African-Americans were fatally shot by police at three times the rate for whites.
Below is a complete transcript of the report from the Wednesday, July 13, Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN:
ANDERSON COOPER: There's also a new study about police shootings by a Harvard economist that has a lot of people talking, We have more on that study from 360's Randi Kaye.
RANDI KAYE: It's an all too familiar scene -- a black man killed at the hands of police. Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, shot and killed after an altercation with police. Walter Scott in South Carolina, stopped for a broken tail light, then shot eight times in the back while fleeing police. Samuel DeBoise in Cincinnati, shot and killed after being stopped for driving without a front license plate.
[clip of traffic stop in which black motorist was shot]
KAYE: But it turns out, at least according to a new Harvard study, that scenes like these are not the norm. The study looked at more than 1,000 shootings in 10 major police departments in Texas, Florida and California. Plus, Stop and Frisk policing in New York City.
When it comes to more extreme force in officer-involved shootings, the study found no racial difference at all. In fact, officers were more likely to fire their weapons without having first been attacked if the suspects were white, weakening the argument for racial bias in the use of lethal force. Nineteen-year-old Zachary Hammond -- who is white -- was shot to death by police in South Carolina-
[clip of police officers trying to stop a car from speeding away and opening fire]
KAYE: -as he drove away from a drug sting.
AUDIO OF UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: He tried to hit me.
KAYE: John Gear, who was also white, was gunned down by police standing in the doorway of his Virginia home. In Houston, the study found that, in cases where lethal force might be justified, officers were about 24 percent less likely to shoot a black suspect. Justified or not, we've seen cases of nonlethal force around the country. Sandra Bland was nearly yanked out of her car for failing to signal, but never shot.
SANDRA BLAND, MOTORIST: Don't touch me!
POLICE OFFICER: Get out of the car!
BLAND: Don't touch me! I'm not under arrest (inaudible)-
POLICE OFFICER: You are under arrest.
KAYE: Another case of nonlethal force, this 14-year-old girl forced to the ground in Texas after police broke up a pool party. The officer kneeling on her back later resigned. In New York City, where researchers looked at Stop and Frisk, they found African-Americans stopped by police were 24 percent more likely to have a gun pointed at them, and 18 percent more likely to be pushed to the ground. Even when black suspects were compliant, they were still 17 percent more likely to be pushed into a wall.
While the study's author says more data is needed, critics point out the sample size is only about four percent of the population, also that researchers relied on police reports only from departments willing to share them, and finally that nonlethal force is far more common than lethal force. And that is where the study did find racial differences. Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
COOPER: Well, the study's findings surprised a lot of people and sparked as lot of controversy. They're at odds with a database of police shootings maintained by the Washington Post which shows that last year African-Americans were fatally shot by police at three times the rate for whites.