US blacks 3 times more likely to be stopped by police than whites - study

Black Lives Matter protesters (Getty)
Black Lives Matter protesters (Getty)

New research has found that once confronted, blacks are no more likely to be killed by police than whites.

The problem is blacks are far more likely to be stopped or arrested in the first place, according to a new study published in journal Injury Prevention.

Researchers looked at data from 2012 sourced from mortality reports, emergency department records, newspapers, FBI reports and police survey results. There were 12.3 million arrests, 2.8 million street stop-and-search incidents and 1 million traffic stops involving searches.

During those, US police fatally injured about 1000 people. Another 54,500 were hurt during their encounter with the force, but survived.

There was no variation in death and injury rates between race/ethnicity, but blacks, Native Americans and Hispanics were between two and three times more likely to be apprehended than whites.

"However, when blacks are stopped or arrested, they are no more likely than whites to be injured or die during that incident," the study reads.

Because non-whites are more likely to be targeted by police, they are over-represented in death and injury rates per capita. A recent spate of shootings of unarmed black men has spawned a movement in the US called 'Black Lives Matter'.

"Given a national history of racism, the excess per capita death rate of blacks from US police action rightly concerns policy analysts, advocates and the press," the authors write.

"Ratios aside, even one person unnecessarily killed or injured by the police is one too many, and every racial/ethnic group has mourned losses from undue force. As the US struggles to reduce citizen injuries during police contacts, it would seem prudent to train at-risk groups about appropriate behaviour during police stops."

This includes teaching young men in particular about how to react when apprehended by law enforcement.

"Frequent police stops of young men have caused many black and some Hispanic mothers to teach their sons where to put their hands if approached by an officer, how to move and not move, to ask permission before reaching for their wallet, and to respond to police rudeness with respect. Those talks may have protective effects."

Of the approximately 1000 deaths at the hands of the police the study found, 95 percent were the result of gunshot wounds. All but one of the rest were caused by Taser stun-guns.

Forty percent of the time police successfully shot their targets, they died - well above the usual rate of 26 percent found in criminal cases.