David Shuey
5 min readJun 12, 2018


Let me slow your roll a bit on the data-crunching on unarmed black men, which according to The Washington Post has been as low as 18 killed out of nearly 1000 a year. It’s true they are disproportionately shot compared to their percentage of the population, but there’s a reason for that: Behavior. It’s not racial bias.

Do you think women should be 50% of all unarmed shootings? You’d have to believe that for your logic to make sense.

But they’re not, and instead are under 5% of the total. That’s because police don’t interact with them at the same rate; nor are they dealing with them under the same circumstances. Nor are they acting the same way as men. Just like black men, on average, behave differently than white men or Hispanic men. They commit more crime. They’re around more crime. They’re around more police. Thus, I don’t understand the notion by so many people that “unarmed” categories should match the demographics of the population.

If they do, they should just say, “Unarmed shootings are incredibly sexist. Men should make up half of unarmed shootings, but instead make up around 95% of them.”

In short, you don’t contextualize for criminality — i.e. the interaction points between citizens and police due to behavior — which is a constant mistake from self-labeled liberals, like yourself. I’m a liberal, too, but any ideology can put blinders on us.

I’m sorry to say: Your stats are not honest. (And feel free to share your spreadsheet, as I shared mine.)

You may say that 40% of the total unarmed are black. That’s true. But this is also true for Black Americans (13% of the population), who are:

  • 27% of all arrests (FBI data: 51% for murder, 32% for aggravated assault)
  • 43% of the persons killing police (Washington Post)

If a demographic is around 30–40% of violent arrests, and 43% of the people trying to kill cops — they may very well end up being around 40% of the unarmed suspects being killed. And we may also say the fact they make up 25% of the overall shootings year-to-year in the Washington Post is fairly remarkable in how low it is.

You have to look at all the unarmed circumstances. For example, Michael Brown in Ferguson was “unarmed,” but he grabbed the officer’s gun and discharged in attempting to get control over it, according to a federal review. In fact, blacks resist arrest at higher rates than whites.

Don’t believe me. Here it is reported in Time:

The ratios of death or injury across races, once a person is stopped, are the same, which initially surprised lead study author Ted Miller, principal research scientist at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Maryland. “the decision to pull you over was racially biased; maybe the decision to arrest you once you were pulled over was racially biased,” Miller says. “But who a police officer kills or injures is probably more of a function of who resists arrest or who pulls out a knife or gun,” he says. The chance that a firearm injury or a hospital-admitted injury would be fatal was also the same across races.

I also highly recommend this article by Heather Mac Donald. Though long vilified by activists, who try shutting down her speech, I’ve yet to actually read anything she’s written that is factually incorrect. She reports here that while diving into each “unarmed” scenario, she was able to find 5 black men who were directly going after the officer’s weapon compared to 1 white man doing the same. We can talk “numbers” all day, but it’s also important to see the “nature” of each one.

Additionally, you say that adding Hispanics to whites conflate the numbers. I argue that’s not so. I did it in one case, overall killings, because arrests of whites and Hispanics are grouped together in FBI data — which (surprise, surprise) I’ve written about exhaustively in my step-by-step article on how to read FBI stats. But simply put, all shootings almost perfectly align with arrest rates for Hispanics, blacks, and non-Hispanic whites. (Around 18% of people shot are Hispanic, and they’re around 18% of arrests.)

Still don’t believe me? Here are 4 studies that indicate there’s no racial bias in police shootings (Roland Fryer even indicates whites are slightly more likely to be shot and killed):

The only other argument is that police are being biased on interactions. This is the “last argument” that usually gets played out when the the shootings-per-encounter argument is nullified. Well, here are 3 studies that show no proven racial bias by police in encounters or arrest:

  • “Results indicate that race does have an indirect effect on police contact, but it is White individuals who are more likely to be questioned and arrested.” SOURCE (2016, Criminal Justice Review): http://cjr.sagepub.com/content/41/3/294.full.pdf+html
  • “Multivariate logistic regression results show that the odds of arrest for white offenders is approximately 22% higher for robbery, 13% higher for aggravated assault, and 9% higher for simple assault than they are for black offenders. These findings suggest that the disproportionately high arrest rate for black citizens is most likely attributable to differential involvement in reported crime rather than to racially biased law enforcement practices.” SOURCE (2003, Social Forces, Department of Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill): http://sf.oxfordjournals.org/content/81/4/1381
  • “To date, the research that has been conducted cannot confirm or refute whether officers discriminate against members of racial minority groups.”
    SOURCE (2004, NCJRS, U.S. Department of Justice): https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/213004.pdf

So who should be afraid of police the most? I can’t really answer that for everyone. But I will just leave you with this hard fact:

Simple math: Divide killings by law enforcement by homicides by race. Roughly, 25% of victims of police shootings are black and 50% are non-Hispanic white (aggregated by The Guardian or The Washington Post). In terms of national homicide rates, 51.6% of victims and 53% of offenders are black (found in FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting), and around 30% of victims are non-Hispanic white (calculated by the Violence Policy Center’s data showing the following homicide victimization rate in 2010: Black = 19.47 per 100,000; Hispanic was 5.73 per 100,000; non-Hispanic white = 2.52 per 100,000). Total annual homicides in the United States in 2014 are nearly 16,000, according to the CDC. So using The Guardian totals with the CDC number, the black percentage is derived by dividing 306 / 7900 = .038 (3.8%); and the white percentage comes from dividing 581 / 5000 = .116 (11.6%). P.S. I did conjure up this Black Lives Matter “myth” before Heather Mac Donald similarly did. Her data is 100% correct, and fairly straightforward, as she puts police killings as a proportion of overall white deaths (and Hispanic deaths, too) at 12% and black deaths are at 4%. It’s also worth noting, with more than 12 million arrests annually, a fatal police shooting is an extraordinarily rare event.



David Shuey

Writer. Researcher. Designer. Human seeking better outcomes for all. Empiricism, relevant facts, and logical arguments > simple narratives.