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Past Event

Deadly force: The legal basis of police shootings of unarmed black males in America

Past Event

Editor’s Note: Some of the figures presented in the introduction to this event were inaccurate and were corrected on November 6, 2018. The video footage above contains the uncorrected figures, whereas the Powerpoint presentation available here contains the corrected information. For details on the changes, please contact

Unarmed black males continue to be disproportionately victimized by police violence in America. A sequence of recent high-profile shootings have sparked a national conversation on the treatment and perceived value of black males, as well as the legitimacy of lethal force by police. Many have questioned whether black males receive the same protections under the law or the same guarantee of the right to life and security as other individuals. What are the legal frameworks governing the use of excessive force by law enforcement? How has a history of systemic racism shaped the origin and application of these laws with respect to police conduct toward black males—and with respect to holding police officers accountable through the judicial system?

On Friday, Oct. 26, the Race, Prosperity & Inclusion Initiative at the Brookings Institution hosted a moderated discussion with legal, academic, and advocacy experts to examine these pressing issues and challenges and explore policy options to address the cycle of police brutality against black males.

After the session, panelists took questions from the audience.


Ngozi Ndulue

Director of Research and Special Projects - Death Penalty Information Center

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