Journal of Social Sciences

Race and Consequences: An Examination of Police Abuse in America

Nicole L. Martin and Augustine J. Kposowa

DOI : 10.3844/jssp.2019.1.10

Journal of Social Sciences

Volume 15, 2019

Pages 1-10


The past few years have witnessed numerous media images of law enforcement officers shooting and in many cases, killing unarmed African American men and women. In significant amount of the cases, despite overwhelming video footage, police officers have not been held accountable for their actions. Most of the incidents have involved White policemen killing African American men. The study aimed at determining the covariates of shootings. Using the Racial Threat Hypothesis, victim characteristics and incident characteristics are investigated with the aim of identifying common themes that emerge surrounding shootings. Data were obtained from media coverage including newspaper, television footage and the Mapping Police Violence Database. Content analysis was performed on the data in order to identify common themes present in the shooting incidents. Two police officers were interviewed in order to ascertain whether their responses were consistent with the themes that have risen regarding police abuse of African American citizens. A major theme that developed in nearly all incidents was efforts by both local officials and police departments to dehumanize the victims. A second theme that emerged was to blame the victim, often by exaggerating his or her ability to harm an officer. It was concluded that to end police violence, reform is needed that takes into account justice, fairness, racism and racial stereotypes.


© 2019 Nicole L. Martin and Augustine J. Kposowa. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.