A top Oklahoma cop is under fire after saying research suggests police are shooting black people “24 percent less than we probably ought to be.”
Tulsa Police Department Maj. Travis Yates made the startling remarks Monday during a podcast with talk radio host Pat Campbell, Public Radio Tulsa reports.
“You get this meme of, ‘Blacks are shot two times, two and half times more,’ and everybody just goes, ‘Oh, yeah,’” Yates said. “They’re not making sense here. You have to come into contact with law enforcement for that to occur.”
If a “certain group” of individuals commit more crimes, Yates said, they will encounter police more regularly than their counterparts.
“Who in the world in their right mind would think that our shootings should be right along the US Census lines?” Yates asked. “That’s insanity.”
“All of the research says we’re shooting African-Americans about 24 percent less than we probably ought to be, based on the crimes being committed,” he continued, according to Public Radio Tulsa.
Yates also voiced his disapproval of ongoing police protests in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, noting that Officer Derek Chauvin has been arrested and is facing prosecution along with three other officers in the May 25 killing.
“What are you doing? What do you mean, justice?” Yates continued. “Justice at this point has been done. Well, then it turned into systematic racism, systematic police brutality.”
Yates then brushed aside those accusations, saying systemic abuse of power and widespread racism by law enforcement officials “just doesn’t exist,” according to the report.
In a statement released early Wednesday, Yates claimed he was misquoted by Public Radio Tulsa and planned to sue for libel.
“For one thing, beyond the outrageous, inflammatory headline, I was misquoted,” Yates told KTUL. “In what seems like an attempt to discredit me, the article reads ‘all of the research …’ However, I clearly prefaced this statement with attribution, and mentioned my sources by name.”
Yates claims he cited research on the podcast by suspended Harvard economist Roland Fryer, as well conservative political commentator Heather Mac Donald and data from the National Academy of Sciences.
The article by Public Radio Tulsa, however, does not mention that context, Yates said.
Yates also took issue with the phrase “police should actually be shooting” African Americans more frequently, KTUL reports, although the statement was not attributed to Yates as a direct quote in the Public Radio Tulsa story.
“I never said actually,” Yates’ statement read. “This is plainly false and factually inaccurate. 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.”
Tulsa’s mayor, G.T. Bynum, blasted Yates’ comments as “dumb” in a statement released Wednesday — and added that they are under review.
“He does not speak for my administration, for the Tulsa Police Department, or the City of Tulsa,” Bynum said. “His comments are under review by the Chief’s Office. And if he didn’t mean to make the statement in the way it has been received, he owes Tulsans a clarification and an apology.”
A message seeking comment from Tulsa police was not immediately returned Wednesday.
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