Exploring the two trigger fingers thesis: racial and ethnic differences in officer involved shootings
Contemporary Justice Review: Issues in Criminal, Social, and Restorative Justice
© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This article provides a comparative, qualitative and quantitative, analysis of officer-involved shootings of residents who were white, black, or Latino in the City and County of Denver, Colorado from 1983 to 2012. This research project combined district attorney summaries, police shooting files, and police shooting video interviews to understand the patterns involving 213 officer-involved shootings resulting in 103 deaths. Thematically, the differences by race and ethnicity are outlined by three themes including (1) suspect characteristics, (2) officer characteristics, and (3) contextual factors. The findings highlight similarities and differences between incident narratives and compare these observations with aggregated statistics to explore whether law enforcement officers possess one trigger finger for whites and another for blacks and Latinos. This comprehensive analysis of racial and ethnic differences in officer-involved shootings indicates the intersectionality of suspect and officer characteristics along with contextual factors.