Police Brutality against African Americans: Causes and Prevention

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America has been trying to achieve justice for everyone for many decades. One of America's first attempts at gaining equality was the introduction of Civil Rights. “Civil Rights are the rights of citizens all citizens to political and social freedom and equality”. Some examples of civil rights include the right to vote or to be treated fairly by the legal system. The Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 60s was a long time when civil rights, particularly for African Americans, were greatly violated. Jim Crow laws were also enacted that kept African Americans to a second-class status. To continue, this led to segregation. Segregation mandated separate schools for black students, prevented voting, and banned interacial marriage. African Americans took action and started protesting for their rights. Then the police brutality came to the center of all this. Police brutality is just one of several forms of abuse African Americans endured during this movement. Police Brutality is defined as police misconduct which involves undue violence by police members. Although it is illegal, it’s still occurring under the color of law today.


Police Brutality was first introduced into American press even before the civil rights movement in 1872, when the Chicago Tribune reported on the beating of a civilian under arrest at the Harrison Street Police Station. Police Brutality has had a nationwide increase. The brutality started out as used to oppress strikes of African Americans attempting to gain their rights. Police brutalizing working-class people and arresting them without cause. A common occurrence during the civil rights era was African Americans were sprayed down with water hoses by officers and attacked by police dogs. Back in 1985 only one out of five people thought that police brutality was a serious problem. Although the cases of brutality seemed a lot more extreme during the Civil Rights Movement, cases will prove that it’s still common.

Cases and Police Accountability

Rodney King

In March 1991, members of the Los Angeles Police Department harshly beat an African American suspect, Rodney King. Someone caught videotape of the incident, leading for it to blow up in the media and face criminal charges against several of the officers involved. The court acquitted four police officers at trial in April of 1992, which led to huge rioting. “The Los Angeles riots of 1992 commenced, causing 53 deaths, 2,383 injuries, more than 7,000 fires, damages to 3,100 businesses, and nearly $1 billion in financial losses.” After the trial, two of the four officers were convicted and received 32-month prison sentences.

Archie Elliot

Police brutality became more commonplace after the Rodney King Case's upset. In 1993, African-American Archie Elliott was handcuffed and placed in custody on a police cruiser by two police officers in Prince George County, Maryland for driving under the influence of alcohol. While cuffed, with a seat belt fastened over him, and the windows rolled up, he was shot at 22 times because the officers believed that they saw him pointing a gun at them. The police officers were not criminally indicted by a county grand jury and were cleared to return to duty. The reason for the dismissal of the case was due to not enough evidence pointing to foul play.


In 2000, 26-year-old Dorismond was shot during a confrontation with an undercover police officer in New York City. The police officer approached him to ask where he could purchase drugs. Dorismond said he was not a drug dealer, but the officer still shot him. Later, the officer claimed it was Dorismond who caused his own death by grabbing the officer’s gun. The question still remains why the gun was pulled out in the first place. A grand jury decided not to indict the officer in Dorismond’s death.

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Robert Davis

On October 9th, 2005 retired elementary school teacher, Robert Davis, was arrested and brutally beaten by police on suspicion of public intoxication. He was attacked by four police officers, who said he was resisting arrest when they tried to handcuff him. The beatings were caught on camera, but the officers charges were cleared.

Tyree King

13-year-old Tyree King was shot and killed by police in Columbus, Ohio in 2016. Officers said in a statement they reacted when he started to pull what looked like a gun from his waistband. They later determined that the weapon was a BB gun. Officers involved received psychological support counseling and were encouraged to take time off to recover from the incident.

97% of the cases of police brutality that were tracked in 2015 did not result in any officer involved being charged with a crime.

Black Americans V. US Police Department

African Americans account for 13% of the population, while being 27% of victims to police brutality. And 35% of the cases are proven that the victim is unarmed. A study was released that identifies if police officers use their personal bias against suspects. One of the things they looked at was what they called “threat perception failure”. In the study, officers believed that the person being accused was armed and it turned out not to be the case. Obviously, these results were more likely when the suspect was African American. The Black community has every right to say they can no longer trust the police force. As a result, the social organization of the Black Lives Matter Movement has made an impact on the world in response to the violence and racism that African Americans face by police officers. Also, studies have shown that 'Black people are three times more likely to be killed by police in the United States than White people. More unarmed Black people were killed by police than unarmed White people last year,”


Law enforcement officers say they are anxious confronting African Americans who they perceive as violent or criminal. There stereotypes come from the history of enslavement, genocide, and segregation. Police officers are legally permitted to use force when expected. Law enforcement often believes they deserve more power over society. This is interpreting that police believe that they are above the law. Officers who are trained improperly and officers with personal problems have a higher chance of pulling their gun on any suspect. But use of force should depend on a victims behavior, no matter what their race is. “Violence used by police can be be very unlawful, especially in the context of political repression”. In the situation of a crime, officers can become angry and filled with adrenaline, which alters their judgment. Typically this is the cause of assault on the victim. The Civil Rights era was one of the worst downfalls of law enforcement. But Police Brutality has grown even more dramatically over the past decade. “In 2015, the percentage of people who have confidence in the police hit its lowest since 1993 at 52 percent”.


In the United States, police are increasingly using police body-worn cameras. The Constitution states that police officers are legally allowed to shoot in the instance that they feel the need to protect their lives or an innocent life or to prevent the suspect from escaping and posing a dangerous threat to the of bystanders in society. The Supreme Court Decision of Tennessee v. Garner made it possible to shoot a fleeing suspect ONLY if they may cause harm to innocent people so that authorities are not just shoot every suspect that tries to escape. In order to ensure that police are well trained and to mitigate the risk of police brutality, police recruits undergo approximately three years of training. Mass shootings have killed 339 people since 2015, where as police shootings over the same time span claimed the lives of 4,355 people.

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Police Brutality against African Americans: Causes and Prevention. (2022, Jun 16). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 18, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/police-brutality-against-african-americans-causes-and-prevention/
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