La'Shelle Jefferson-McDonald, Ph.D. is a 2022 graduate of the PHD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

La'Shelle Jefferson-McDonald at her Dissertation Defense.

From L-R: Dr. Denise Huggins (not pictured), Committee Member, Dr. Lize Booysen, Committee Chair, Dr. Carol Baron, Committee Member.

Dissertation Committee

  • Lize Booysen, DBL, Committee Chair
  • Carol Baron, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Denise Huggins, Ph.D., Committee Member


police brutality, compliance, stereotypes, de-escalation, adaptive leadership, differential association theory, White supremacy

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Widespread availability of cell phones has given most Americans the ability to record events as they happen. This has included recordings of increasing instances of police brutality directed at African Americans by White officers, including the shooting and killing of unarmed People of Color, particularly males. With such encounters being recorded and widely viewed by the general population, there is an increased need to focus on stopping this serious social problem. This study gives historical context on how this came about, what common stereotypes are associated with African Americans, and examples of several cases where unarmed African Americans were killed by White police officers. This study examines two theories which could offer possible solutions as to how society can begin to correct this social problem: first, differential association theory, “the view that people commit crime when their social learning leads them to perceive more definitions favoring crime and deviance than favoring conventional behavior” (Siegel, 2015, p. 174). The second explanatory and normative theory is adaptive leadership. To be adaptive, an individual’s behaviors must adjust specifically to each situation. Different interactions usually require a different pattern of leadership behavior (Yukl & Mahsud, 2010). African Americans need to learn to adapt their behavior during police encounters in order to defuse the situation. This study used a mixed methods methodology. The instrument for the study was an online questionnaire completed by 121 respondents. Results showed considerable promise for improving the relationship between People of Color and police officers through training for both parties using adaptive leadership and compliance as a guide. This dissertation is available in open access at AURA ( and OhioLINK ETD Center, (


La'Shelle Jefferson-McDonald

ORCID Scholar ID #: #0000-0003-1891-7733

Dr. La’Shelle Jefferson-McDonald is an Adjunct Professor of Criminal Justice and Sociology at Central State University. She holds a B.S. in Sociology from Central State University. She also holds two M.A. Degree’s, one in Applied Behavioral Science from Wright State University, and the other in Leadership and Change from Antioch University. She recently earned her PhD in Leadership and Change from Antioch University.

Dr. Jefferson-McDonald has presented original social justice research at several conferences and obtained two criminal justice teaching grants. Her research interest focuses on improving the relationship between members of urban communities and law enforcement officers.

Her professional memberships include the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice (NABCJ), American Correctional Association (ACA), and the Midwest Sociological Society (MSS).