'A complete mess': CDC report names police violence 'major cause' of deaths but omits critical data
Three years after the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report confirming "police-perpetrated killings are a major cause of violent death in the United States, Truthout reports.
Per Truthout, the report also reveals "Black and Indigenous men are disproportionally killed by police compared to all other groups tracked in the data."
However, Truthout notes:
The CDC's federal data on violent deaths at the hands of law enforcement likely excludes hundreds if not thousands of people who were killed while in police custody or who died inside local jails due to abuse, medical neglect and other forms of violence. Multiple states have resisted gathering and sharing data on deaths-in-custody with the federal government despite laws passed by Congress, according to the Justice Department.
Social epidemiologist and a visiting scientist at Harvard University Justin Feldman noted, "There is generally a shortage of reliable data on the number of people killed by state violence in the U.S., and the CDC’s report is no different."
He said, "If it's a death in custody, and the medical examiner calls it ‘accidental,’ which is pretty common, it's not going into the data set," adding, "What I'm interested in is deaths that come after either use of force, like Tasers, beatings, restraints or medical neglect. The data there is a complete mess in every dataset that exists."
Last month, Patia Braithwaite and Tiffanie Graham reported for The New York Timestheir findings from speaking with "more than 100 people about the ongoing psychological strain" of police violence, noting "Black people in America are killed by the police at three times the rate of their white counterparts."
The Times reports:
Victims and their families, as well as bystanders, are often psychologically scarred by these events. But there is evidence that the millions of Black people indirectly exposed to police violence are affected, too. In a 2021 study, researchers examined emergency room data from hospitals across five states, finding a correlation between police killings of unarmed Black people and a rise in depression-related E.R. visits among Black people.
Feldman emphasized he believes most states have previously been against sharing data "for political reasons," adding, "This is the first time they are discussing it, so for me, that is a promising sign even though much more work needs to be done."
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