Recent Police Killings in the United States: A Three-City Comparison

Angela S. Lee, Ronald Weitzer, Daniel E. Martínez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Recent police killings of citizens in the United States have attracted massive coverage in the media, large-scale public protests, and demands for reform of police departments throughout the country. This study is based on a content analysis of newspaper coverage of recent high-profile incidents that resulted in a citizen’s death in Ferguson, North Charleston, and Baltimore. We identify both incident-specific content as well as more general patterns that transcend the three cases. News media coverage of similar incidents in past decades tended to be episodic and favored the police perspective. Our findings point to some important departures from this paradigm. Reporting in our three cases was more likely to draw connections between discrete incidents, to attach blame to the police, and to raise questions about the systemic causes of police misconduct. These findings may be corroborated in future studies of news media representations of high-profile policing incidents elsewhere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)196-222
Number of pages27
JournalPolice Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • content analysis
  • news media
  • police misconduct
  • police reform
  • race relations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Law


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