Officer-Involved Shootings Climb in Texas; Blacks, Latinos Disproportionate Victims
Officer–involved shootings of civilians in Texas have not only increased over the past four years, but survival rates of victims dropped below 50 percent, according to a data analysis by the Texas Justice Initiative (TJI).
Clear racial trends were also shown in the data. Despite state-wide numbers showing more white people are shot by police in Texas overall, in the states’ five most populous counties, black people were shot at a disproportionate rate between 2016-2019.
The data was released as Texas faces a surge of calls for police reform, including defunding. Several notorious use-of-force incidents in Texas have made national headlines, including the fatal 2019 shooting of 26-year-old Botham Jean, an African-American accountant, in his Dallas apartment by a police officer who mistook his apartment for hers. The white officer, Amber Guyger, was convicted of murder.
One example of the disproportionality is Harris County, which includes the city of Houston and is the third most populous county in the U.S. African Americans in Harris County account for just 18.5 percent of the county population, yet represent 48.5 percent of those shot.
In 2019, Hispanic civilians were shot more often overall, as well as more often fatally.
The shooting figures suggest a downward trend. While there was a 14.4 percent increase in civilians shot during officer–involved shootings in 2019 compared to 2018, there was a 25.9 percent increase between 2017 and 2018.
Another population overrepresented when comparing people who lost their lives in officer–involved shootings is young Black men, more specifically, those aged 15 through 24. They were found to be overrepresented at the rate of 2.96.
“This disparity disappears in the older categories (e.g., ages 45-54 and 55-64),” the study said.
“For example, details on the type of incident that led to the shooting and the weapons used by civilians who are labeled as “armed,” would be helpful in determining why civilians are being confronted by law enforcement in the first place, and why law enforcement officers choose to discharge their weapons over other options including de-escalation tactics,” they wrote.
The full study and related tables can be downloaded here.
Laura Bowen is a TCR news reporting intern.