"Blacks and whites have starkly different views of the decisions in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases, and blacks are far more likely than whites to say that race was a major factor in both rulings," according to the survey conducted by Washington-based think-tank Pew Research Center.
A Missouri grand jury declined Nov. 24 to indict police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting unarmed black teen Brown in August. Nine days later, another grand jury in New York decided against filing criminal charges against officer Daniel Pantaleo for killing Garner with a fatal chokehold.
The decisions have triggered nationwide protests and ignited a debate about race relations and police brutality across the country.
Eighty percent of blacks said the grand jury made the wrong decision in not indicting Wilson in Brown’s death, while only 23 percent of whites believed the officer should have been charged, according to the survey which was conducted Dec. 3-7 among 1,507 adults.
In the Eric Garner case, about 90 percent of blacks said the New York grand jury erred in not bringing charges against Pantaleo. Forty-sevent percent of whites agreed that the grand jury made the wrong decision.
The survey revealed that 64 percent of blacks believe race was a major factor in the Brown decision. In the Garner case it was similar at 62 percent. Among whites, only 16 percent said race played a major role in the decision not to charge Wilson, and 18 percent said it was a major factor in the Garner decision.
The poll results also exposed a racial divide in opinions about future relations between local police forces and minorities in communities around the country.
Fifty-two percent of blacks expect relations between police and minorities to worsen over the next year, whereas just 16 percent saw relations improving, it said.
"Among whites, 34 percent say relations will worsen, while 43 percent expect them to stay about the same," the survey said.