Studying racial bias in police shootings

HOUSTON – Houston area activists are disputing the results of a Harvard study regarding officer involved shootings.

The study, authored by Harvard economics professor Roland Fryer, found no evidence of racial bias in police shootings.  Fryer looked at data from thousands of incidents across 10 large police departments in California, Florida and Texas.  He found officers were no more likely to shoot at non-whites than they were at whites.

Thursday morning, the Greater Houston Coalition for Justice held a news conference to dispute the findings.  “We know we have problems here in Houston between the police department and the minority community,” said Richard Farias.

Activists cited various reports that show there is in fact a great disparity between the number of non-whites and whites getting shot by police officers.

“The killings and all the wrongful arrests made in this city are just not appropriate and should not be happening,” Farias said.

They also pointed out a lot of the data from the study comes from police reports, where details of certain incidents may have purposely been concealed by officers.

“We have to be willing to make some changes.  We can't deny what has happened,” said David Atwood, of the Greater Houston Coalition for Justice.

The group is calling for the creation of an independent review board for officer-involved shootings in Harris County.