Police Fatality Shootings: Examining the Circumstances of Race

Student Classification


Faculty Mentor

Dr. Tobin Walton


Criminal Justice and Forensic Science

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2019


While America has a long history of police brutality, there has been an increase of police shootings that result in fatalities in recent years. Media representations suggest that police only target unarmed African American men. This representation has resulted in tension, riots, and calls for policy change, however it is unclear if this is a true representation of police killings. The aim of this research is to answer the question “does race, circumstance and region affect the rate in which a person is fatality shot by police?” In order to answer this, the Washington Post Police Fatality Shooting Database’s collection of individual cases will be analyzed in order to break down the data into categories of Black and armed, Black and unarmed, White and armed, White and unarmed, along with the region of the United States the incident occurred in. Within each region there will be an examination of a small set of nominal level variables through the use of a nonparametric, two by two chi square procedure. The chi square procedure will be use to inference if a relationship occurs within the data. By computing the two-way chi-square, the data will show if the X2obt is larger than the X2crit. This will determine if the variables are independent or dependent of each other along with the level of significance in order to see if the media representation is true in regards to who is fatality shot by law enforcement.

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