A white police officer in Tulsa, Oklahoma is facing backlash for incendiary comments he made during a podcast on Monday when he suggested that police officers should shoot black Americans more often.
According to an article by Public Radio Tulsa published on Tuesday, Tulsa Police Major Travis Yates aired his grievances over the nationwide protests against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death on talk radio host Pat Campbell’s podcast the day before.
“You get this meme of, ‘Blacks are shot two times, two and a half times more,’ and everybody just goes, ‘Oh, yeah,'” Yates told Campbell. “They’re not making sense here. You have to come into contact with law enforcement for that to occur.”
Yates went on to argue that “if a certain group” commits more violent crimes, causing law enforcement officers to come into “more contact” with them, then the number of shootings is “going to be higher.”
“Who in the world in their right mind would think that our shootings should be right along the U.S. Census lines? That’s insanity,” Yates said. “All of the research says we’re shooting African-Americans about 24 percent less than we probably ought to be, based on the crimes being committed.”
In a statement shared with KTUL on Wednesday, Yates said that Public Radio Tulsa’s article “misquoted” him with “the most inflammatory, egregious inaccuracy” and that it’s a “libelous claim.”
“The article states that ‘TPD Maj. Travis Yates also suggested that, according to his interpretation of crime data, police should actually be shooting black Americans more frequently,'” Yates said in a statement. “I never said ‘actually.’ This is plainly false and factually inaccurate. And to think that beyond a discussion of comparative statistics that I would suggest that the ‘police should actually be shooting’ anyone is simply outrageous.”
Backlash ensued on social media soon after Yates’ remarks aired. Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said in a Facebook post on Wednesday that he wants to believe that Yates “didn’t intend to say what he did,” but that his remarks go “against everything we are trying to achieve in community policing.”
“He does not speak for my administration, for the Tulsa Police Department, or the City of Tulsa,” Bynum wrote. “His comments are under review by the Chief’s Office. And if he didn’t mean to make the statement in the way it has been received, he owes Tulsans a clarification and an apology.”