[News] Police are now the sixth leading cause of death for young American men

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Aug 8 15:13:55 EDT 2019


  Police are now the sixth leading cause of death for young American men

By Natalie Rahhal - August 5, 2019

Police use of brutal force is now considered a top 10 of death for young 
American men - and you're at 2.5-times greater risk of being killed by a 
cop if you are a black man, a new study reveals.

The names of men like Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown have 
made headlines and became core to the Black Lives Matter movement in the 

But they're only three out of thousands who have died in encounters with 
police in the US in recent years.

Previous official statistics have placed police brutality below the top 
10 causes of death for young US men, due largely to the way these deaths 
are coded by coroner's offices.

In fact, police have been responsible for so many fatalities in recent 
years that encounters with cops are now the sixth leading cause of death 
- just behind cancer - foryoung American men, according to a new Rutgers 
University study.

'We've never had reliable federal data system that's tracked 
police-involved deaths,' said Rutgers criminal justice professor and 
lead study author, Dr Frank Edwards, who based the research on media 
reports, not flawed federal data.

'It's important to emphasize that police violence is a threat to public 
health and police are responsible for...producing a lot of years of life 

Just last week, court recordings detailed how yet another young American 
- Tony Timpa, 32 - was killed by police after the unarmed man called 911 
during a schizophrenic episode.

A day later, a New York Police Department judge recommended Garner's 
killer, Daniel Pantaleo, be fired.

Each year in the US, an average of about 1,100 people men and women are 
killed in encounters with the police, estimate the Rutgers researchers.

Cops are the seventh leading cause of death for African American men of 
the same age group, falling a spot lower only because HIV is also a 
leading cause of death for this group of men, unlike their white peers.

Nonetheless, people of color are at far greater risk of dying at the 
hands of law enforcement than are white men or women.

For black men, the risk is two-and-a-half times greater, meaning the 
odds they will be killed by police are one in 1,000.

Native American men are also at a high risk when they encounter police. 
They are 1.5 times more likely to be killed under these circumstances

Latino men face a 1.4 times greater risk of a fatal cop encounter than 
their white counterparts do.

On the whole, police officers are a lesser danger to women, who are 20 
times less likely to be killed in encounters with law enforcement than 
men are.

But black, Latina and Native American women are between 1.2 and 1.5 
times more likely than white women to be killed by police officers.

And police violence has only increased in recent years, surging by about 
50 percent since 2008.

Yet National Vital Statistics reports have undercut the number of deaths 
caused by cops by about 50 percent, due to cracks in the system of cause 
of death coding used in coroners offices.

Instead, the Rutgers team used media reports - which have been shown to 
catch nearly all of the deaths captured in Vital Statistics data, as 
well as about 50 percent that the official numbers do not capture - to 
make their fatality estimates.

Dr Edwards hopes that the glaring revelation that police officers are 
the sixth leading cause of death (just behind cancer) of young adult men 
will encourage Americans to look at police violence as a public health 

'When someone is killed by police, it doesn't just affect them,' Dr 
Edwards explained in an interview with DailyMail.com.

'It affects their family, their community, their friends - those 
spill-over consequences can have really negative effects.'

In 2017, Erica Garner (pictured) died of an asthma attack that triggered 
a heart attack, three years after her father was killed by cops

Cops tend to Eric Garner after he was placed in 'chokehold'

And those consequences weigh more heavily on communities of color.

'When an unarmed black man is killed by police, black people in that 
area have an increase in depression,' said Dr Edwards, citing previous 

'When the victim is white, there's no change.'

There are also more illnesses in heavily-policed and often black and 
Latinx communities.

Eric Garner died after Staten Island police officer, Daniel Pantaleo, 
put him in a forbidden chokehold in 2014.

His last words, 'I can't breathe,' became a rallying cry for activists 
calling for an end to police violence against black people in the US.

For three years, his daughter, Erica, helped to lead the effort, but in 
2017 she suffered a catastrophic asthma attack, which triggered a heart 
attack and ultimated killed her.

She was just 27, and had lived under immense stress after her father's 

Last week - five year's after Eric Garner's death - a New York Police 
Department judge finally recommended that Pantaleo be fired.

'How long it took for that to happen is consistent with the idea that, 
if we treat [police violence] as harmful to our communities, the 
community can have a stronger role in deciding how those paid employees 
behave,' said Dr Edwards.

He says that looking at police violence as a public health concern may 
help us shift that perspective toward the needs of the community, and 
away from situations that unnecessarily pit police officers against the 
communities they're supposed to serve.

'Police have become first responders to all circumstances,' Dr Edwards 

'Police themselves will tell you they are not equipped to respond to 
many of the situations' - like mental health crises - 'that they're sent 
out to - but they are trained in fatal violence.

'There are many communities in which interactions with governments [and 
their enforcers] are always hostile, and a public health approach can 
help us think about ways we can do it differently.'

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