from MN (Michael Novick): Deaths in custody are of course
barely the tip of the iceberg of police killings,
since many more take place in confrontations,
chases, etc. Plus this total does not include
either Georgia or Maryland (or Montana).--MN
Study: 2,002 Died in Custody in 3 Years
By HOPE YEN – Oct 11, 2007
WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 2,000 criminal
suspects died in police custody over a three-year
period, half of them killed by officers as they
scuffled or attempted to flee, the government said Thursday.
The study by the Justice Department's Bureau of
Justice Statistics is the first nationwide
compilation of the reasons behind arrest-related
deaths in the wake of high-profile police
assaults or killings involving Abner Louima and
Amadou Diallo in New York in the late 1990s.
The review found 55 percent of the 2,002
arrest-related deaths from 2003 through 2005 were
due to homicide by state and local law
enforcement officers. Alcohol and drug
intoxication caused 13 percent of the deaths,
followed by suicides at 12 percent, accidental
injury at 7 percent and illness or natural
causes, 6 percent. The causes for the deaths of
the remaining 7 percent were unknown.
The highly populated states of California, Texas
and Florida led the pack for both police killings
and overall arrest-related deaths. Georgia,
Maryland and Montana were not included in the
study because they did not submit data.
Most of those who died in custody were men (96
percent) between the ages of 18 and 44 (77
percent). Approximately 44 percent were white; 32
percent black; 20 percent Hispanic; and 4 percent
were of other or multiple races.
"Keep in mind we have 2,000 deaths out of almost
40 million arrests over three years, so that
tells you by their nature they are very unusual
cases," said Christopher J. Mumola, who wrote the study.
"Still, they do need to be looked at to determine
whether police training can be better or practices can be better," he said.
State laws and police department policy typically
let officers use deadly force to defend
themselves or others from the threat of death or
serious injury. Deadly force also is allowed to
prevent the escape of a suspect in a violent
felony who poses an immediate threat to others.
The Justice Department study released Thursday
suggests that most of the police killings would
be considered justified, although it does not
make that final determination. About 80 percent
of the cases involved criminal suspects who
reportedly brandished a weapon "to threaten or assault" the arresting officers.
Another 17 percent involved suspects who
allegedly grabbed, hit or fought with police.
More than one-third of the police killings, or
about 36 percent, involved a suspect who tried to
flee or otherwise escape arrest.
The report was compiled at the request of
Congress in 2000 after the 1997 struggle between
New York police and Louima, a black security
guard who left the precinct house bleeding after
officers jammed a broken broomstick into his
mouth and rectum. A few years later, two police
shootings of unarmed black men followed,
including Diallo, who was shot 41 times after he
reached into his pocket for a wallet.
Since then, following police sensitivity
training, New York has seen a few killings
involving suspects and officers, including last
year's shooting of Sean Bell, an unarmed black
bridegroom-to- be whom police say they believed was reaching for a gun.
New York now ranks sixth nationwide in the number
of police killings, behind Arizona and Illinois,
according to Thursday's report.
_Among law enforcement, 380 officers were killed
in the line of duty over the three-year period
and 174,760 were reportedly assaulted, according
to FBI data. Most of the deaths were accidental
(221), while 159 were homicides.
_Blacks were disproportionately represented in
arrest-related deaths due to alcohol or drug
intoxication (41 percent vs. 33 percent for
whites); accidental injury (42 percent vs. 37
percent for whites); and unknown causes (46 percent vs. 39 percent for whites).
Mumola said it was unclear why blacks tended to
be victims for accidental injuries, which often
involve fatalities in the course of a police car
chase; or intoxication, which involve overdoses or drunkenness.
_Arrest-related deaths involving tasers or other
conducted-energy devices are rising, although
overall numbers are low. From 2003-2005, there
were 36 such deaths total, with a jump from 3 cases in 2003 to 24 in 2005.
_About half of arrest-related suicides (51
percent) involved attempted arrests for violent
crimes. Whites were disproportionately
represented in those deaths (57 percent), six
times the percent of blacks (14 percent).
Hispanics accounted for 26 percent of the cases,
and 3 percent involved other or multiple races.
On the Net:
* Bureau of Justice Statistics: http://www.ojp. usdoj.gov/ bjs http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs
Note to Mr Mumola......To clear up why Black folks tended to be victims for accidental injuries, It is because they are called accidental when they are in fact, in many cases, homicide.
Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.