Since the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, protests have continued across the country over racial disparities in how police use force — and new statistics from the Guardian suggest there really are enormous disparities.
This chart, based on the Guardian's analysis of police killings between January and May 2015, shows the racial demographics of the general population, all victims of police killings, and unarmed victims who died at the hands of law enforcement:
The results are striking. Not only are minorities more likely to be killed by police, but they're even more likely to be killed when only counting unarmed suspects.
What could explain this? Some researchers have suggested that subconscious racial biases are behind the disparities. Studies show, for example, that officers are quicker to shoot black suspects in video game simulations. Josh Correll, a University of Colorado Boulder psychology professor who conducted the research, said it's possible the bias could lead to more skewed outcomes in the field. "In the very situation in which [officers] most need their training," he said, "we have some reason to believe that their training will be most likely to fail them."
So police officers are more likely to see minority people as bigger threats because of their race, and they're more likely to shoot and kill minority suspects as a result. That's exactly what worries so many critics of law enforcement.