Tulsa Officer: We’re Shooting Black People “24% Less Than We Probably” Should Be
Tulsa Police Department Maj. Travis Yates suggested this week that research shows police are shooting African Americans “24 percent less than we probably ought to be,” according to The Hill.
Yates made the comment while speaking with podcast host Pat Campbell on Monday about ongoing protests against police brutality and racial injustice, sparked by the death of George Floyd in police custody.
He suggested the notion that black Americans are shot at a disproportionate rate compared to white Americans was not accurate.
"You get this meme of, 'Blacks are shot two times, two and a half times more,' and everybody just goes, 'Oh, yeah,'" Yates said on the podcast. "They're not making sense here. You have to come into contact with law enforcement for that to occur.”
- Yates continued saying that groups that commit more crimes will encounter police more frequently.
"If a certain group is committing more crimes, more violent crimes, and law enforcement's having to come into more contact with them, that number is going to be higher,” he continued. “Who in the world in their right mind would think that our shootings should be right along the U.S. census lines? That's insanity.”
- Yates then dropped his most controversial comment, saying that some research states that “we're shooting African-Americans about 24 percent less than we probably ought to be, based on the crimes being committed."
The officer later defended his remarks, saying they had been taken out of context. The Hill noted that Public Radio Tulsa (PRT), which initially reported on Yates’ comments, had written: “...according to his interpretation of crime data, police should actually be shooting black Americans more frequently.”
"I never said actually. This is plainly false and factually inaccurate," Yates said in a statement to KTUL in Tulsa. "And to think that beyond a discussion of comparative statistics that I would suggest that the 'police should actually be shooting' anyone is simply outrageous."
"Clearly the published article does not reflect my hypothetical discussion of statistics based on the research of others," Yates continued in the Wednesday comments. "It makes no mention of the sources I cited. And it absolutely does not factually reflect my words."
The Hill noted that during his podcast interview, “Yates cited research from former Harvard University economist Roland Fryer, conservative political commentator and Manhattan Institute fellow Heather Mac Donald, and the National Academy of Sciences.”
Yates also suggested during the interview that Floyd’s death was an isolated incident and not indicative of widespread issues within U.S. policing.
"The officer was arrested the next day. They were prosecuted, they were fired. What are you doing? What do you mean, 'justice?' Justice at this point has been done," Yates said on Monday. "Well, then it turned into systematic racism, systematic police brutality."
"This is what they're trying to say that all these changes need to come from: this is why we're protesting, this is why we're rioting. Because of systematic abuse of power and racism. That just doesn't exist," he added.
The Hill noted that Yates’ comments “are particularly striking given the city’s history with racism, including the 1921 Tulsa race massacre that featured a white mob attacking the predominately black Greenwood business district known as ‘Black Wall Street.’”
The outlet also recalled that Yates "faced backlash in 2016 for writing in an essay that American police were "at war" and implied Black Lives Matter activists should not be allowed to visit the White House."
The essay was titled, "Follow Commands or Die."