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Black drivers twice as likely to be shot after a traffic violation

The movement to protect black citizens from police brutality has been notable. While African-Americans have long protested against instances of police brutality, it hasn’t been until the rise in smartphones and videos posted online to Youtube and Facebook that other communities across of America have become aware of the issue.

Chicagoans are not likely surprised by the above statistic, compiled by the Tampa Bay Times, which analyzed police shootings in Florida from 2009 through 2014. Comprehensive reporting on this issue is difficult, and usually involves anecdotal stories that often capture the attention of the nation for a few days or weeks after the shooting.

It is extraordinarily difficult to obtain complete information on police shootings in general. While local police stations keep such statistics, there is no national database. To help capture a general idea of the state of police shootings, The Tampa Bay Tribune recently released in-depth statistics regarding police shootings across Florida. Florida has a more open public records law than some other states, meaning the Tampa Bay Tribune was able to compile comprehensive statistics over the five-year period.

Other statistics revealed African-Americans were:

  • 2.5 times more likely to be shot for reaching for a weapon – when they were in fact unarmed
  • Three times more likely to be shot during a police chase on foot
  • Four times as likely to be shot in the back

Police shootings have not increased – just awareness of them

Despite the increased level of national awareness, the number of police shootings has not risen, at least in Florida. Instead, it is more likely that media attention is the reason for the increased focus on preventing police brutality at the national level.

Increased awareness of the issue has led to many victims of police shootings and police brutality to speak out and take legal action against police departments nationwide. 

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