Thursday, June 11, 2020

Police Shootings, By The Numbers

I received an email from with this sentence:

The murder of George Floyd, after the murder of Breonna Taylor, after the murder of Tony McDade, in the midst of a pandemic that kills Black and Brown people at twice the rate of white people, has reflected in stark reality an inequitable system affecting all aspects of our lives.

Wait . . . who is Tony McDade? From WGCU Tallahassee:

McDade, a black transgender man [i.e., a biological woman], is accused of fatally stabbing 21-year-old Malik Jackson just minutes before being shot and killed by police. Tallahassee Police Chief Lawrence Revell told media at the scene that McDade was holding a gun when the officer opened fire and killed him . . . . During a court hearing last week, PBA attorney Stephen Webster described the officer’s actions as “absolutely, defensible, understandable and predictable acts of self-defense,” citing a video posted to McDade’s Facebook page prior to his death that shows McDade talking about a potential standoff with police.

For reasons I can't recall, I came across an article in the Daily Beast that had this sentence:

In the midst of two pandemics—the coronavirus and police brutality against unarmed black people, including the recent killings of George Floyd, David McAtee, and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police—the adult industry is having a long-overdue conversation about the racism that has infected so many aspects of the adult world, from the marketing of scenes to the amount workers are paid.

Again, we have the first-string players, Floyd and Taylor, accompanied by a walk-on, David McAtee:

The fatal shot that killed west Louisville restaurateur David McAtee came from the Kentucky National Guard, according to preliminary findings from an investigation of the shooting announced Tuesday by state officials. LMPD officials have said McAtee was first to shoot, and the officers and Guard members returned fire. On Tuesday, Brown backed up that claim. He said gunshot residue was found on McAtee’s body and two casings recovered near the door of the restaurant matched the ammunition he carried in a pistol that same night.

There seems to be a pattern where advocacy organizations and their journalistic mouthpieces pad the list of bad police shootings (and there are many) with justified police shootings (and there are many of those as well). I sought to evaluate police shootings along two axes: how justified the shooting was, and how much punishment the responsible officer received.

Guilt Scale
1Justified Force
3Inappropriate Force
4Intent to kill

Punishment Scale

Here is my list, by no means complete:

George Floyd33
Laquan McDonald44
Freddie Gray22.5
Christine Damond44
John Crawford41
Michael Brown12
Trayvon Martin13
Duncan Lemp3.51
Eric Garner22
Philando Castille43
Breonna Taylor3.51
William Green43
Allan George3.51
Dennis Tuttle3.51
Tamir Rice31
Jemel Roberson31
Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr3.51
Richard Black3.51
Jason Erik Washington31
Zachary Champommier31
Daniel Shaver41.5

Here is the graph:

Oh, yeah, that long list of names in the lower right you've never heard of? Mostly white victims.

A few notes:

  • Media accounts differ as to what happened in the Tamir Rice shooting. Some say that he "pulled" the toy gun when the officer approached and ordered him to raise his hands. If this were true, I would regard the shooting as mostly justified; his toy gun looked real enough, and no reasonable officer would NOT shoot under those circumstances. However, other accounts say that Rice merely "reached" for the gun, which sounds bogus: just about all innocent arm movements could be characterized as "reaching" for something on one's person for this to be a valid justification, and it is on this account that I base my rating.

  • Most of the "3.5" guilt-scale ratings attempt to provide some consideration for the Fog of War inherent in serving no-knock drug warrants. The officers bear primary responsibility for creating that fog, reason enough to forbid the practice of raids in which officers do anything other than knock on the door, wait for an answer, and present the warrant to the occupant before proceeding.

  • The 2.5 punishment-scale rating for the officers implicated in Freddy Gray's death are because they were prosecuted and acquitted, but not discharged. The 1.5 rating for the officer who shot Daniel Shaver reflects that the officer was initially fired, but then temporarily rehired so he could qualify for a pension.

  • The standout miscarriages of justice are in the Trayvon Martin shooting (where George Zimmerman was manifestly justified in using deadly force but prosecuted anyway) and John Crawford III (whose murderers are still on the Beavercreek, Ohio police force).

  • Note that this list does NOT include the many, many unjustified police shootings and excessive force cases in which the victim fortunately survived.

There is some subjectivity in assigning these ratings, but I am confident that I am within ± 0.5 of where it ought to be. That said, I will would be happy to consider any evidence that you, my two-dozen or so faithful readers, might present for re-characterization.

1 comment:

heresolong said...

Short version, this whole thing is a giant load of sh&t. There is no systemic racism, it's just a way to extort stuff from the productive people of the society, including minorities who have worked hard and made something of themselves, who will now be viewed with suspicion that perhaps they didn't actually work hard but were the beneficiaries of some taxpayer funded special program.