White Police Officer in St. Louis Shoots Off-Duty Black Colleague

“In the police report you have so far, there is no description of a threat he received,” Mr. Tate said. “So we have a real problem with that. But this has been a national discussion for the past two years. There is this perception that a black man is automatically feared.”

The police department said in a brief statement on Monday that the investigation into the officer-involved shooting was not complete. Mr. Tate could not be reached on Monday for comment.

The shooting has revived questions about the effects of police training and race on communities, especially in the St. Louis area, where police killings of black people in recent years have had national consequences. In August 2014, a white officer from the Ferguson Police Department fatally shot Michael Brown, who was 18 and black, in a northern suburb of St. Louis.

The shooting of Mr. Brown led to protests and calls for police reform nationwide, particularly after a grand jury did not indict the officer, Darren Wilson. Two months later, protesters marched again in St. Louis over the death of another young black man, Vonderrit D. Myers Jr., 18, who was shot after what the authorities called a “physical altercation” with an off-duty St. Louis officer who was patrolling the city’s Shaw neighborhood for a security firm.

In August 2015, tensions flared after the police said an officer shot an 18-year-old St. Louis man, Mansur Ball-Bey, after a foot chase by two white officers after he pointed a gun at them.

In an interview on Monday, a state senator, Jamilah Nasheed, questioned the justification given in the police statement for the black officer’s shooting. Saying that an officer feared for his safety, she said, can be a blanket excuse to help absolve blame — to “get out scot-free.”

“What is really disheartening, especially for the African-American community, is that we are still trying to recover from the police-involved shootings,” she said. “And now to see the police officers shooting their own men in blue by way of what they call ‘friendly fire’? It is telling that white men in blue suits are afraid of black men.

“The discussion is going to have to be had about sensitivity training across the board,” she added. “If you are going to interact with African-Americans, the first thing that you should not be afraid of is the African-American.”

The city has not had a permanent police chief since April, when D. Samuel Dotson III retired.

This year the city also got a new mayor. When Mayor Lyda Krewson took office in April, her mandate included trying to “rebuild the frayed relationships between law enforcement and our community,” The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. On Monday, she said at a news conference broadcast on social media that public meetings and citizen advisory meetings were taking place to find a new police chief, a process that might take up to nine months.

Asked about the June 21 police shooting and Mr. Tate’s remarks about blacks being treated as criminals, she said:

“My understanding of this situation — it was a very intense volatile situation, with a lot of gunfire going on. But if it was friendly fire, then certainly that was a terrible accident.”

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1.5 Million Missing Black Men

For every 100 black women not in jail, there are only 83 black men. The remaining men – 1.5 million of them – are, in a sense, missing.

Among cities with sizable black populations, the largest single gap is in Ferguson, Mo.

North Charleston, S.C., has a gap larger than 75 percent of cities.

This gap – driven mostly by incarceration and early deaths – barely exists among whites.

Figures are for non-incarcerated adults who are 25 to 54.

In New York, almost 120,000 black men between the ages of 25 and 54 are missing from everyday life. In Chicago, 45,000 are, and more than 30,000 are missing in Philadelphia. Across the South — from North Charleston, S.C., through Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi and up into Ferguson, Mo. — hundreds of thousands more are missing.

They are missing, largely because of early deaths or because they are behind bars. Remarkably, black women who are 25 to 54 and not in jail outnumber black men in that category by 1.5 million, according to an Upshot analysis. For every 100 black women in this age group living outside of jail, there are only 83 black men. Among whites, the equivalent number is 99, nearly parity.

African-American men have long been more likely to be locked up and more likely to die young, but the scale of the combined toll is nonetheless jarring. It is a measure of the deep disparities that continue to afflict black men — disparities being debated after a recent spate of killings by the police — and the gender gap is itself a further cause of social ills, leaving many communities without enough men to be fathers and husbands.

Perhaps the starkest description of the situation is this: More than one out of every six black men who today should be between 25 and 54 years old have disappeared from daily life.

“The numbers are staggering,” said Becky Pettit, a professor of sociology at the University of Texas.

And what is the city with at least 10,000 black residents that has the single largest proportion of missing black men? Ferguson, Mo., where a fatal police shooting last year led to nationwide protests and a Justice Department investigation that found widespread discrimination against black residents. Ferguson has 60 men for every 100 black women in the age group, Stephen Bronars, an economist, has noted.

The distributions of whites and blacks

Most blacks live in places with a significant shortage of black men.

But most whites live in places with rough parity between white men and women.

Percent men →

The gap in North Charleston, site of a police shooting this month, is also considerably more severe than the nationwide average, as is the gap in neighboring Charleston. Nationwide, the largest proportions of missing men generally can be found in the South, although there are also many similar areas across the Midwest and in many big Northeastern cities. The gaps tend to be smallest in the West.

Incarceration and early deaths are the overwhelming drivers of the gap. Of the 1.5 million missing black men from 25 to 54 — which demographers call the prime-age years — higher imprisonment rates account for almost 600,000. Almost 1 in 12 black men in this age group are behind bars, compared with 1 in 60 nonblack men in the age group, 1 in 200 black women and 1 in 500 nonblack women.

Higher mortality is the other main cause. About 900,000 fewer prime-age black men than women live in the United States, according to the census. It’s impossible to know precisely how much of the difference is the result of mortality, but it appears to account for a big part. Homicide, the leading cause of death for young African-American men, plays a large role, and they also die from heart disease, respiratory disease and accidents more often than other demographic groups, including black women.

Where black men are missing

Black men, as a pct. of all black adults






National average, all races

Rates are shown in counties with at least 1,000 prime-age black men and women.

Several other factors — including military deployment overseas and the gender breakdown of black immigrants — each play only a minor role, census data indicates. The Census Bureau’s undercounting of both African-Americans and men also appears to play a role.

The gender gap does not exist in childhood: There are roughly as many African-American boys as girls. But an imbalance begins to appear among teenagers, continues to widen through the 20s and peaks in the 30s. It persists through adulthood.

Rates by age group



The disappearance of these men has far-reaching implications. Their absence disrupts family formation, leading both to lower marriage rates and higher rates of childbirth outside marriage, as research by Kerwin Charles, an economist at the University of Chicago, with Ming-Ching Luoh, has shown.

The black women left behind find that potential partners of the same race are scarce, while men, who face an abundant supply of potential mates, don’t need to compete as hard to find one. As a result, Mr. Charles said, “men seem less likely to commit to romantic relationships, or to work hard to maintain them.”

The imbalance has also forced women to rely on themselves — often alone — to support a household. In those states hit hardest by the high incarceration rates, African-American women have become more likely to work and more likely to pursue their education further than they are elsewhere.

The missing-men phenomenon began growing in the middle decades of the 20th century, and each government census over the past 50 years has recorded at least 120 prime-age black women outside of jail for every 100 black men. But the nature of the gap has changed in recent years.

Since the 1990s, death rates for young black men have dropped more than rates for other groups, notes Robert N. Anderson, the chief of mortality statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both homicides and H.I.V.-related deaths, which disproportionately afflict black men, have dropped. Yet the prison population has soared since 1980. In many communities, rising numbers of black men spared an early death have been offset by rising numbers behind bars.

It does appear as if the number of missing black men is on the cusp of declining, albeit slowly. Death rates are continuing to fall, while the number of people in prisons — although still vastly higher than in other countries — has also fallen slightly over the last five years.

But the missing-men phenomenon will not disappear anytime soon. There are more missing African-American men nationwide than there are African-American men residing in all of New York City — or more than in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Detroit, Houston, Washington and Boston, combined.

Places with the lowest rates

Place Pct. black men

Places with most missing men

Place Pct. black men «Missing»

In places with at least 10,000 black residents.

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