Denise Reese

Date Approved


Date Posted


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department or School

Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology

Committee Member

Gregg Barak, PhD., Chair

Committee Member

Paul Leighton, PhD.


This research focuses on the use of excessive and deadly force executed by law enforcement agencies in the context of a racial bias operating throughout the United States and its criminal justice systems. America's criminal system past and present, openly displays an enormous amount of inequality and injustice against African American males, females and other minorities. Are law enforcement agencies and the criminal justice system allowing police officers the right to desecrate minorities through the use of excessive and deadly force? This research focuses on the consequences of a U.S. legal system that seldom if ever provides any retributive justice to police officers that kill unarmed African American, Native American, and Hispanic males. Research will demonstrate that minority male lives in America "do not matter" as much as Caucasian male lives do, based on the differential responses of police officers to these demographic groupings. This research reviews "up close and personal" seven cases of police killing unarmed African American males during the summer of 2014. By way of this research and analysis, supplemental data on excessive and deadly use of force by the police are used to help contextualize this form of discriminatory control over the past quarter of a century. The higher rates of excessive and deadly use of force aimed at African American males, particularly in contested or violent neighborhoods, underscores a form of ethnic and racial injustice in America. In the affected areas, these social realities call not only for changes in policing, but also in the socio-economic relations and in the organizational structures of ethnically depressed communities.

Included in

Criminology Commons