Are blacks disproportionately involved in police shootings?

What was the racial breakdown of those who were shot by police in 2015? The largest number, 494, almost exactly half, were white. 258 were black, 172 were Hispanic, and the remaining 66 were either “other” or unknown. (Interestingly, Asians are rarely shot by police officers.)

The 258 blacks represent 26% of the total. That is about double the percentage of blacks in the American population. Is that prima facie evidence of racism on the part of law enforcement? Of course not. It is common knowledge that blacks have an unusually high rate of contact with the police, both as victims and as perpetrators. In 2012-2013, the Department of Justice found that blacks were the perpetrators of 24% of all violent crimes where the race of the perpetrator was known (in 7.8% of violent crimes, it was unknown).

So the percentage of blacks fatally shot by police officers (26%) is almost exactly equal to the percentage of blacks committing violent crimes (24%). Indeed, given that the black homicide rate is around eight times the white rate, it is surprising that the portion of blacks fatally shot by policemen is not higher.

Liberals might argue that blacks are disproportionately the victims of unjustified shootings by law enforcement, but I have not seen anyone try seriously to make that case.