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Louisville, Indianapolis Shootings Reflect Disproportionate Impact of Police-Involved Shootings on Black Americans

May 12, 2020

In both Louisville and Indianapolis, recent shootings by police have prompted ongoing community conversations about officer-involved shootings and the disproportionate impact they have on Black Americans.

In Louisville, 26-year-old Breonna Taylor was fatally shot in her home by police in March, as police allegedly executed a search warrant without following numerous department regulations and procedures. In Indianapolis, Dreasjon Reed and McHale Rose were shot and killed by police within an 8-hour span Wednesday night and Thursday morning. 

Taylor, Reed and Rose were all Black, a fact that reflects a stark reality: Black Americans are far more likely to be shot and killed by law enforcement than their white counterparts. An analysis by the Washington Post found that “the rate at which Black Americans are killed by police is more than twice as high as the rate for white Americans.”

In addition to their own toll, officer-involved shootings have reverberating effects through a community, decreasing public safety by making community members less likely to believe the police will help in an emergency.

Research finds that meaningful use of force policies reduce police shootings. By encouraging de-escalation, utilizing early intervention systems, and ensuring that officers who act in a manner that is criminally negligent can be held accountable, use of force policies can ensure that laws help advance safety and promote trust in the police.

“Breonna Taylor should be alive today,” said Cathy Mekus, volunteer leader with the Kentucky chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Her death is another sad reminder of the outsized toll that gun violence – including officer-involved shootings – takes on Black and brown communities. We all must do our part to ensure justice for Tamika Palmer and the rest of Breonna’s family, including a full investigation and proper accountability.”

“Last week reminds us that our conversations about preventing police-involved shootings can’t wait,” said Heather Hilbert, a volunteer with Indiana Moms Demand Action. “These shootings leave a devastating impact and can erode the trust between communities and law enforcement, creating lasting ripple effects. All of us have a role to play in these critical conversations, including law enforcement.”

As a whole, gun violence takes a disproportionate toll on Black and brown communities. Black Americans represent the majority of homicide and nonfatal shooting victims in the US and are far more likely than white Americans to be victimized by and exposed to assaultive gun violence.

Information about gun violence in Kentucky is available here, and information about gun violence in Indiana is available here. To request an interview, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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