FACT CHECK: Viral Image Claims Michael Vick Served More Prison Time Than All The Cops That ‘Killed The Last 493 Unarmed Black Men’

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

An image shared on Facebook more than 17,000 times claims former NFL quarterback Michael Vick served more prison time than “all the cops combined who have killed the last 493 unarmed black MEN.”

Verdict: False

There are instances of police officers serving more time in prison for killing unarmed black men than Vick did for his involvement in an illegal dog-fighting operation.

Fact Check:

Protests against racial injustice and police brutality erupted across the country after George Floyd, an unarmed black man, died on May 25 in Minneapolis police custody. Derek Chauvin, one of the former Minneapolis police officers charged in Floyd’s death, knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, even after Floyd repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe, video of the incident shows.

Following Floyd’s death in police custody, Facebook users shared a screen grab of a tweet claiming Vick “served more time in jail for killing a dog than all the cops combined who have killed the last 493 unarmed black MEN.” (RELATED: Does This Photo Show A Dog Former NFL Player Michael Vick Abused?)

Vick was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison for his role in running an illegal dog-fighting operation, per ESPN. Released in 2009, the former quarterback served about 18 months in a federal prison and an additional two months in home confinement, according to The New York Times.

“A simple internet search shows that sentences relating to police killings of African-American citizens are all longer than that by years,” Brent Orrell, a resident fellow at the think tank American Enterprise Institute, said in an email to the Daily Caller. “While few convicted of crimes serve their full sentences, it is difficult to imagine these officers will not spend more time in prison than Vick did.”

Clark Neily, the vice president of criminal justice at the think tank Cato Institute, told the Caller that while the Facebook post’s “sentiment” is a “fair reaction to and critique of the system,” the claim it makes is inaccurate.

“Although it is rare (and in my view too rare) for cops to be criminally convicted for killing people without justification – including unarmed black men – it is not unheard of, and the total amount of time served by cops for killing unarmed black men exceeds (and, if one did a comprehensive analysis, almost certainly vastly exceeds) the amount of time served by Michael Vick,” Neily said in an email.

For instance, former North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer Michael Slager has served more time in prison than Vick as of press time. In December 2017, Slager was convicted in the shooting death of Walter Scott, an unarmed black motorist, and sentenced to 20 years in prison, according to The New York Times.

Roy Oliver, a former Dallas police officer, was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2018 for the murder of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards, an unarmed black teenager who was shot while riding in a car leaving a party, per The Associated Press. At the time of publication, Oliver has spent nearly two years in prison, with his expected release date in 2033, according to the Texas Tribune.

It’s unclear what time frame the screen grabbed tweet used to arrive at the 493-figure for unarmed black men killed by police. The Washington Post’s database of fatal police shootings estimates 116 unarmed black men have been shot and killed by police since January 2015.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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