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Police Are More Aggressive Overall in Encounters With African Americans

A new study finds that African Americans are subjected to threats and non-lethal violence more often than whites when stopped by police.
Cook County Sheriff police officers handcuff and question a man who walked up to them while officers where conducting an unrelated street stop in the Austin neighborhood in Chicago
Cook County Sheriff police officers handcuff and question a man who walked up to them while officers where conducting an unrelated street stop in the Austin neighborhood in ChicagoREUTERS/Jim Young

Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke had been the subject of 17 citizen complaints since 2006 before he shot and killed 17-year-old Laquan McDonald last year. According to The Chicago Tribune, some of the recent complaints were for excessive force and using racial epithets when interacting with people. The Tribune describes an episode of this:

Encounters with the police like this one, that don’t involve bullet wounds or death, don’t often reach the public consciousness. But they happen pretty regularly—at an average of 44 million times a year between 2002 and 2011, according to Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) researchers Shelley Hyland and Lynn Langton. In a report released last weekend, Hyland and Langton reveal findings on how often police used non-fatal force—and sometimes excessive force—when dealing with civilians.