African Americans make up about 9% of the total population in the City of Los Angeles, but they accounted for 37% of the murder victims in 2018.
There were 259 murders committed in the city last year, the second lowest number in a decade. Of the victims, 97 were African American.
White people make up 28% of the population, and they accounted for 10% of murder victims, 28 in total, in 2018. People of Hispanic* descent make up 49% of Los Angeles’ population, and they accounted for 49% of murder victims, at 127.
The LAPD recorded no criminal homicide victims of Asian descent in 2018.
Population data source: U.S. Census Bureau (2017). American Community Survey 1-year estimates.
These racial disparities are neither new nor unique to Los Angeles.
A recent national study found that non-Hispanic black men were nearly 10.4 times more likely than non-Hispanic white men to die by homicide, and white men were 2.5 times more likely than black men to die by suicide.
Researchers have studied persistent health disparities, pinpointing systemic racism as well as other social determinants of health, such as where a person lives, their income and their access to health care and education as predictors of health outcomes.
There have also been studies linking higher homicide rates to income inequality.
In Los Angeles, of the 259 total people killed in 2018, the oldest person to die by criminal homicide last year was a 90-year-old black male who was beaten to death with a “blunt instrument” at 3:35 a.m. on March 3 on the sidewalk near 77th Street and Vermont, according to LAPD data.
In a crime detailed in local news reports, the bodies of two African American sisters, ages 16 and 27, were found by the Los Angeles Fire Department when firefighters responded to a burning apartment building at 9 a.m. on Nov. 17 on the 8600 block of Belford Ave. in Westchester. The LAPD reported that both victims suffered gunshot wounds and were pronounced dead at the scene. It also reported that the murder was domestic-violence related, as the juvenile murder suspect – a 17-year-old male arrested on Nov. 21 – was the boyfriend of one of the victims. The sisters left behind three children between them.
*The LAPD uses “Hispanic” in their data, so we are using the same language to describe the group of people that are sometimes also referred to as Latino or Latinx.
How we did it: We examined publicly available LAPD data on reports of criminal homicides for the past nine years. For 2018, we also included one case of negligent manslaughter in the neighborhood of Florence, as the LAPD included this incident in their year-end report. For neighborhood boundaries, we rely on the borders defined by the Los Angeles Times. Learn more about our data here.
LAPD data only reflects crimes that are reported to the department, not how many crimes actually occurred. In making our calculations, we rely on the data the LAPD makes publicly available. LAPD may update past crime reports with new information, or recategorize past reports. Those revised reports do not always automatically become part of the public database.
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