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via Force Science Institute:

The recent national tumult about police officers killing suspects got a medical professor with an interest in murder thinking about the flip side of the equation–suspects who kill cops. What are the traits and trends of offenders who gun down LEOs, beyond what we already know from the FBI’s annual stats . . .

Dr. Michael Stone is a physician at a New York forensic psychiatric hospital, teaches at the Columbia College of Physicians & Surgeons, and once hosted a Discovery Channel show about murderers, called “Most Evil.”

He studied 66 US cases in which officers were deliberately slain on the job across a recent two-year period and last month published his findings in the journal Violence and Gender. You can access his study until Apr. 18, by clicking here.

Among other things, he offers these observations from his small sample:

• 75% of the killers were from 18 to 37, the segment of the lifespan that sees the rise, peak, and beginning decline of testosterone concentration in males (there were no female killers in the study period). This is true as well “with mass murderers (an almost entirely male group) and actually with male murderers in general,” Stone writes. The average age of cop killers within this age span was 22 for blacks, 29 for whites.

• Another age-related factor, Stone suggests, is that key areas of the brain related to “inhibitory control and social decision-making”–the brain’s “braking system,” so to speak–are “not fully in operation” until the early 20s.

“This helps account for the comparative impulsivity, recklessness, and daring-do of adolescents,” Stone explains. Unlike many other murderers, he says killers of police tend not to plan their slayings but act “impulsively on the spur of the moment,” some how imagining they can “get away with it, even though it is common knowledge (even among the young) that [police] will hunt to the ends of the earth” to apprehend those who kill one of their own.

• About one in eight of Stone’s cop killers “could reasonably be placed within the spectrum of psychiatric disorders.” Paranoid tendencies seemed most common. As a group, cop killers appear “only half as likely to suffer from an obvious schizophrenic or other psychoses as do mass murderers,” he reports.

His data pool did not permit him to explore it, but Stone is intrigued by the possibility that a “history of severe head injury in the early decades of life” might influence fatal attacks on officers. Such injury, he says, “figures importantly in the background of many murderers” because it is “often followed by profound personality changes, [including] impulsivity, poor decision-making, and lack of emotional control.”

• As to race, blacks were disproportionately represented in Stone’s sample, as they are in crime statistics generally. While comprising less than 13% of our population, blacks constituted 37% of cop killers in 2013 and 26% in 2014, he writes.

• The majority of those killing officers had criminal records and most commonly the slayings occurred when officers were trying to question their attacker about some suspicious activity or to make an arrest. After the murders, about half then committed suicide or were killed by other officers–“not statistically different,” Stone points out, from the ends experienced by mass murderers.

Lt. Glen Mills of the Burlington (MA) PD brought this study to our attention. Commenting on Stone’s conclusion that cop killing is so often an impulsive act, Mills says: “It is important in officer survival training to find out what can be done in these impulsive situations to lower the risk. Officers being polite, ‘squared away,’ and waiting for backup might be even more important than we thought.”

Dr. Stone can be reached at: [email protected]


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  1. “As to race, blacks were disproportionately represented in Stone’s sample, as they are in crime statistics generally. While comprising less than 13% of our population, blacks constituted 37% of cop killers in 2013 and 26% in 2014, he writes.”

    Race card played in 3…. 2…. 1…

    • My favorite thing about the race card being played is that it’s always whites being blamed when technically it was the Spanish who came over and started slaying everyone. Had they not made it the “white devil” wouldn’t have either.

    • But even he sugarcoated the numbers.
      It was black males that committed 37% of police officer murders in 2013, despite the fact that black males only make up 6% of the population.

      • Gives you pause, doesn’t it? If black males are only 6% of the population yet they account for 37% of cop murders what dynamic is in effect here? Are the black males going to the cop shop and calling the badge wearers out for a gun fight?

        Or maybe the cops are puahing the whole driving while black thing way past its expiration date.

        • I point out there must be some other dynamic at work if 6% of the population is responsible for 37% of the cop murders and your reasoned response is that I’m a moron?

          Ignoring the fact that I’m on record numerous times and having taken a huge amount of static for supporting the police in these threads you intrepret my statement as “they deserved it”.

          Sumner, we’re done here.

  2. “Commenting on Stone’s conclusion that cop killing is so often an impulsive act, Mills says: “It is important in officer survival training to find out what can be done in these impulsive situations to lower the risk. “

    Except it was NOT an “impulsive act” in two recent high profile cases which were both planned ambushes (Las Vegas and New York).

    And, there was a female assailant in one of those cases, and she did reportedly help kill one of the officers.

    Seems I did not have to work very hard at all to find ‘corner cases’ that were blown off by this study. 66 is a mighty small sample size to be pulling some broad stroke generalizations from.

    Sorry to be negative, but he kind of lost me with the testosterone gibberish.

    • I believe Stone was relying on FBI info for his study. Didn’t TTAG just recently do a post about the FBI fudging numbers on school shootings?

      As a rule the POTG that comment here have no love or trust for .gov. But they seem to take the .govs stats at face value when it fits their narrative.

    • A follow-up questions would be whether this is more or less than the over-representation of blacks as murderers overall? Looks similar or a little less based on the figures I recall, though the relatively small sample set here makes for a lot more year-to-year variation than you’d see looking at the general population of murderers.

      Also, of course the study had to look at past years – but this year we’ve seen at least two (that I recall) deliberate assasinations of cops.

    • 66 officer deaths in a two-year period. Let’s see:

      2014 Line of Duty Deaths: 127; Gunfire: 47
      2013 Line of Duty Deaths: 114; Gunfire: 31
      2012 Line of Duty Deaths: 133; Gunfire: 48
      2011 Line of Duty Deaths: 180; Gunfire: 68
      2010 Line of Duty Deaths: 177; Gunfire: 59
      {Source: Officer Down Memorial Page}

      Now we can see how he “sliced and diced” his numbers.

      • The majority of “line of duty” deaths are due to heart attacks and vehicle crashes not battles with criminals. Cops do not even stand in the top-10 most dangerous occupations.

        • I think the point there is how to you look at that data and find any way “two years” gets “66 deaths,” gun related or otherwise.

          I sure don’t see it.

      • I don’t believe he is saying those were the only instances of death or death by gunfire. The article here says “He studied 66 US cases” he took a sample of all gunfire related officer deaths and ended up with 66 sample cases.

        • Right. He’s cherry picking data.

          That’s wrong.

          You don’t get to pick and choose which data fits your model to justify your model. That’s called tautology. It also goes by the name of “Begging the Question Fallacy.” Otherwise known as “Circular Argument.”

          Geez, I lament the state of science and math education in this country.

  3. I always enjoyed “Most Evil,” although I thought it was kinda silly to establish a hierarchy among murderers. My personal “most evil” would not have made Dr. Stone’s top echelon of murderers — her name is Andrea Yates.

    • Rachel Carson. Rachel is the poster child for the “banality of evil.”

      Margaret Sanger isn’t far behind, though her intentions were racist and evil.

    • We watch that show on Investigation Discovery channel. We also enjoy “Doomsday Preppers”, too. One thing we always wanted to see, was a follow up interview with the psycho killers regarding his psychopath rating Stone gave him, just as that prepper consulting company rates the preppers on their preps and the preppers get to respond.

      From death row, something like: “Umm….overall, I agree with the assessment, because I did have a more limited body count than my peer group. It’s just that I still don’t think the doctor gave me enough credit for my sexual sadist tendencies on each attack, which really should drive my psycho score up.”

  4. So what I took from this is that when cops are gunned down, it’s usually done on impulse by pre-middle-aged men with a prior criminal record. Based on fudged numbers or not, that sounds pretty accurate to me.

    As for the race card goes…we all know that had Stone not separated by race, there are people out there who would blame most of the study on non-Caucasians. Although, even though he did, I know there are people who will claim the percentage of black suspects is higher than what is reported.

  5. Who kills cops?

    Criminals usually.

    Also, where would heart attack/stroke rate on the list? It seems like a high stress job so I’d assume the rates to be higher.

  6. Well, this information is obviously wrong. .. (sarc)

    Sheriff Prieto of Yolo County, he of Richards vs Prieto fame who refuses to issue CCW permits, claims the real danger to officers making it to end of shift would be from letting all those “unknowns loose-

    yes, the law abiding, background checked, shrink-tested, fee-paying, 6 hour of class taking, range practicing, LEO tested on range passed, to get the CCW permit types loose on the street. Yes, I am being sarcastic, but its true that he said it…its the “public safety” argument of the California State Sheriffs Association and California Peace Offficers Association, the progressive non-profits that also filed amici in support of Kamala Harris denying the right in CA…on Peruta, Baker, and Prieto cases now in en banc rehearing at the 9th CA.

  7. While comprising less than 13% of our population, blacks constituted 37% of cop killers in 2013 and 26% in 2014, he writes

    And in fact the 3% that is African American male age 17-40 constitutes 35% of cop killers and 51% of all murder puerpatrotors int eh USA.

    Is it a genetic thing in the back “race”? No. It is a function of poverty and social factors.

    But while the claim that black males are shot more by police per capitals is true, they are shot by police LESS often than white males of that age per violent felony committed.

    • If it is a function of poverty and social factors why are others in similar situations not engaged in this behavior?

  8. “Blacks constituted 37% of cop killers in 2013 and 26% in 2014.”

    Stated in a racial vacuum and without other racial context, shall one conversely assume that white men constituted 63% of cop killers in 2013 and 74% of cop killers in 2014? It would then appear that white men are killing more and more cops and trending upwards.


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