David Shuey
4 min readApr 9, 2018


Thanks again fro the call-out, Traditional Tradesman, to my link on police use-of-force and shootings: How Roland Fryer’s Controversial Harvard Study on Racial Bias by Police Actually Shows Negligible Bias (or Brutality).

Below are three key excerpts to back up your simple point, so people don’t have to read through the morass. The argument for “systemic racism” would simply be if police are shooting blacks more often then they encounter them, or if those encounters are significantly unwarranted. The answer and evidence says “no” on both of those accounts. Thus, I’m very certain the data proves there’s no systemic racism in policing.

What was once a relatively medium-sized piece is now quite large, as I do re-edit occasionally. A few new sections you or others can go to (ctrl+f on these or scroll to find the subhead). They fall under the large section of “Can We Trust The Numbers? Answer: Yes.” (i.e. basically my rebuttal to all the naysayers):

  • Houston, We Don’t Have a Problem; Ideologues Do
  • Roland Fryer vs. Cody Ross
  • Studies Show Police Aren’t Racially Biased
  • The War on Drugs
  • Anti-Police Media Bias?
  • Academic Bias?
ABOVE: This chart on page 19 of a PDF report for the Center for Policing Equity may be helpful in understanding what “20% more or less” looks like between blacks and whites per interaction. My conclusions are that blacks receive about 20% more use of force than whites (with other factors not considered, like violent crime), and whites are about 20% more likely to get shot and killed. The RED circle clearly points out blacks receive slightly more use of force in all but one category: Lethal force. Even so, when The New York Times reported on this data they said in the headline that, “Police Are More Likely to Use Force on Blacks.” The Times also quoted Aislinn Sol, organizer of the Chicago chapter of Black Lives Matter, who said: “It’s kind of like, ‘Is water wet?’ But what we gain with each study, each new piece of information is that we are able to win people over who are on the fence. The evidence is becoming overwhelming and incontrovertible that it is a systemic problem, rather than an isolated one.” Sorry, if I’m not convinced that 95% of the time there’s NO USE OF FORCE for blacks — and 96% of the time for whites — that there’s a systemic problem. That’s why I wrote this Medium post rebuttal that led to this analysis you’re reading here.

First excerpt:

Thus, you can trust the data. These are the percentages of the national total for Black Americans (13% of the population):

  • 27% of all arrests (FBI data: 51% for murder, 32% for aggravated assault)
  • 31% of all instances of use of force by police (Center for Policing Equity)
  • 25% of all lethal instances of use of force by police (Washington Post)
  • 43% of the persons killing police (Washington Post)

Bottom line: If lethal and non-lethal use of force were 40% or higher and arrests remained at 27% for Black Americans, I wouldn’t be writing this analysis. I’d say, “See, there’s your systemic racism,” and I’d strongly endorse changes in policing culture. Yet, to anyone looking at those numbers above, I ask: How can one say police treating black people with greater violence and ill intent? This isn’t high-level statistics. It’s common sense.

Second key excerpt:

Indeed, we can go back to the numbers around police involved shootings and deaths to prove Fryer’s data is sound and can be trusted. If the rate-of-death without controls were equal for blacks and whites the number you’d see would be “1.0.” In reality, African Americans die at hands of law enforcement in the United States at twice their rate of population (2.0); and compared to whites, they are two-and-a-half (2.5) times as likely. However, with controls, which are essential to statistical analysis, Fryer and I would argue it’s closer to 1.0 (or even .8 or .9 favoring the black populace). The New York Times posted in the middle of their story, “Mr. Fryer found that in such situations, officers in Houston were about 20 percent [.8] less likely to shoot if the suspects were black.”

The use-of-force disparity rates that Fryer and other studies present (Fryer: 1.2 with controls, 3.335 without) are consistent with the impossible-to-hide evidence of police shootings and deaths. In the final section of this analysis (Breaking Down Fryer’s Data “On the Ground”) I’ll show how 20% greater or lesser can appear negligible with low number of occurrences, which is what we’re dealing with in violent police interactions.

Or another way of saying it, based on 2015 arrests and Washington Post estimates of police killings:

  • 1 black person is killed by police in 10,000 arrests
  • 1 white or Hispanic person is killed by police in 9,000 arrests

As I mention below in an analysis complete with clear pie charts (which I can’t completely vouch for), that disparity is much greater disfavoring whites (i.e. better for blacks) for violent arrests. Thus, on shootings, it looks like whites people suffer slightly more. But in all other areas of “use of force,” black people suffer slightly more. If “suffer” is the right word for an outcome largely dictated by the behavior of the suspect or citizen. Or as the Center for Policing Equity data shows:

  • 1 black person receives “use of force” for every 22 arrests
  • 1 white person receives “use of force” for every 28 arrests

ABOVE: Screenshot from the NY Times story on Roland Fryer’s groundbreaking data. This graph was the second image profiled far down in the article.

Third key excerpt:

Studies Show Police Aren’t Racially Biased

It’s a canard to simply attack racist police or claim “institutional racism” leads to these outcomes. It’s citizen behavior. Several studies conclude similarly:

Basically, there’s a strong argument backed by peer-reviewed research that blacks get away from being caught by police more than whites in many key crime categories.



David Shuey

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