As of July 27, the Guardian claims, American police have killed 657 people in 2015. The large majority, 492, were armed. Some 316 victims were white, 172 black, and 96 Hispanic. (The rest were of other or unknown ethnicities.) Whites constitute a majority of the population, however, and police kill black Americans at a greater rate than whites — with 4.12 black victims per million versus 1.59 white victims per million.
So case closed, right? Not so fast. Comparing police shootings by race with crime statistics by race tells an entirely different story: It may in fact be the case that white Americans are ever-so-slightly more likely than blacks to die in any given encounter with a police officer. After all, blacks commit homicide at eight times the combined white/Hispanic rate, and, despite their constituting roughly 13 percent of the population, represent a majority of homicide and robbery arrests. Indeed, the disproportionate share of arrests exists across all categories of violent crime — at a rate that often exceeds the racial difference in police shootings. Thus, blacks are seriously overrepresented in the most dangerous police encounters of all — encounters with violent suspects.