55% of police murders incorrectly classified as other causes of death – Reason.com

More than half of police murders are not labeled as such, according to a new study published in The Lancet. The study examines approximately 40 years of deadly police violence in the United States.

To reach this conclusion, the researchers compared statistics from the government’s National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) with open source databases from the nonprofit groups Fatal Encounters, Mapping Police Violence, and The Counted.

NVSS data dropped 55.5% “of all deaths attributable to police violence” between 1980 and 2018, the researchers found. Overall, “the misclassification of police violence in NVSS data is considerable”.

A holistic look shows that there have been 30,800 police-caused deaths in those decades. “That’s 17,100 more deaths… than reported by NVSS,” they say.

To put this into perspective, they note that in 2019, more American men died from police violence (1,140 deaths) than from exposure to environmental heat and cold (931 deaths), from cancer. testes (486 deaths) or sexually transmitted diseases (37 deaths).

Non-Hispanic blacks were the most likely to be killed by police. (“Police disproportionately killed blacks at a rate 3.5 times greater than whites, and also killed Hispanics and Indigenous people disproportionately,” the newspaper notes.) Official database.

“From 1980 to 2018, the largest underreporting of deaths was among non-Hispanic blacks, with 5,670 deaths (5,390-5970) missing out of an estimated total of 9,540 deaths (9260-9830),” they report. That’s 59.5% misclassified. The misclassification rate for non-Hispanic whites during the same period was 56.1%. For Hispanics (of any race), it was 50 percent, and for non-Hispanics of races other than black or white, it was 32.6 percent.

Data suggests more police murders in recent years than in the early years of the study (although it is not clear whether this is due to better tracking or increased violence). In the 1980s, the death rate from police violence was 0.25 per 100,000 people. In the 2010s, it was 0.34 per 100,000, an increase of 38.4% over the study period.

Oklahoma, Wyoming, Alabama, Louisiana and Nebraska were the states most likely to underreport police murders. In Oklahoma, the misclassification rate was 83.7%, and in the other four major states it was over 70%.

The states least likely to underreport police murders were Maryland, Utah, New Mexico, Massachusetts and Oregon.

How can this happen?

“Doctors are usually responsible for completing the cause of death section of the death certificate, but state laws require that a medical examiner or coroner do so for homicides or cases where there is a suspicion of felony or of criminal act, including police violence, ”he notes. the Lancet paper. It continues :

However, only some cities have forensic pathologists to act as coroners, and in small rural counties, the coroner may be an untrained medical practitioner, the sheriff, or an undertaker. The text fields in the cause of death section are filled in by the certifier; these responses are then translated into International Classification of Diseases (ICD) codes by software and nosologists using code selection rules published by WHO. According to these rules, deaths from police violence are to be classified under judicial intervention codes, which are defined as “injuries inflicted by police or other law enforcement officials, including serving military personnel. , during an arrest or an attempt to arrest offenders, suppress disturbances, maintain order and any other legal action ”. In cases of police violence, there are many text fields that aid in the coding process, including the causal chain indicating the complete sequence of events leading to death and the section on mode of death. One text field is particularly crucial: a section which, in the event of an injury, asks the certifier to “describe how the injury occurred”. If this section does not mention that the deceased was killed by the police, then the death will not be attributed to judicial intervention.

Previous studies have shown that the death certification system routinely underestimates deaths due to legal intervention. The underreporting is related to several factors, including the failure of the coroner or medical examiner to indicate police involvement in the text fields in the cause of death section of the death certificate or errors in the process of assigning ICD codes even when the death certificate shows police involvement. There is ample evidence that the omission of police involvement in describing how the injury occurred is responsible for the misclassification of police violence as homicide. Death from police violence may be incorrectly classified as another cause because the certifier fails to mention the police in the “describe how the injury occurred” section, or because the certificate is incorrectly coded after the fact. The “describe how the injury occurred” section is open-ended and does not contain any explicit instructions to mention police involvement and a certifier may not have the knowledge or training to properly complete the form. There are also significant conflicts of interest within the death investigation system that could deter certifiers from disclosing police involvement, including the fact that many forensic pathologists and coroners work for or are on-board. to the police.


Denial of the Boston flag spawns a Supreme Court case over religious freedom and the separation of church and state. Boston City Hall sometimes allows the flags of outside groups to be hoisted on one of its poles. But he rejected a flag from a Christian group called Camp Constitution. Is this allowed? The Supreme Court will rule. More Politics:

The dispute concerns the Christian group’s desire to fly a white flag bearing a red cross over a blue square in the upper left corner from an 83-foot flagpole outside of Boston’s city government headquarters. Two of the three town hall poles are used to display the American flag (with a POW / MIA flag) and the flag of the state of Massachusetts.

However, the Boston city flag which usually flies from the third pole has been repeatedly lowered and replaced with flags from various groups or causes, including Gay Pride, and from foreign countries, including Albania, the ‘Italy, Portugal, Mexico, China, Cuba and Turkey. Some of these flags contain religious symbols.

Alternative flags flew at least 284 times over the 12-year period, often in connection with events held at town hall, according to the ruling of the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals.

But city officials have rejected the Christian group’s flag on the grounds that it appears to convey endorsement of particular religious views.

The case could “provide an opportunity for the court’s relatively new conservative majority, made up of six judges, to expand the rights of religious groups and individuals to use public facilities to assert their views,” suggests Politics.


Molnupiravir, the first antiviral pill to treat COVID-19. Merck says it has developed a drug that reduces the risk of COVID-19 for people infected with the virus. He is seeking emergency clearance for the pill from the Food and Drug Administration. “In the interim analysis, molnupiravir reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by approximately 50%,” Merck said in a statement. “7.3% of patients who received molnupiravir were hospitalized or died up to day 29 after randomization (28/385), compared to 14.1% of patients treated with placebo (53,377). Up to day 29, no deaths were reported in patients who received molnupiravir, compared with 8 deaths in patients who received placebo. “


The appeals court sided with the Biden administration on the deportations of migrants due to the coronavirus. In mid-September, a federal court ruled that the Biden administration could not use a public health rule known as Title 42 as an excuse to deport migrants without processing their asylum claims. On Thursday, the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit came to the opposite conclusion. “We will continue to fight to end this illegal policy,” said American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Lee Gelernt.


• Investigation reveals significant mismanagement of an FBI watch warrant program. “According to the new report of the Inspector General of the Ministry of Justice released on Thursday, the investigation that followed revealed 209 errors in a sample of 29 [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] requests examined “, reports The hill.

• Up to 80,000 green cards expire today, unless Congress takes action. “Due to a quirk in immigration law, the government began its fiscal year last October with 120,000 more green cards than the 140,000 it usually gives out, a prospect that promised to dramatically reduce the backlog of eligible candidates “, note The Wall Street Journal. “But immigration authorities have been unable to handle the windfall, exacerbating the frustration felt by many of the 1.2 million immigrants – most from India and working in the tech sector – who have been sponsored for green cards and will continue to work on temporary visas that limit their ability to change jobs or travel.

• A young woman who was shot in the head by a cop at her school is about to be removed from the resuscitation system. The cop shot the woman for trying to leave school after an alleged fight with another student.

• A federal court in Austin will hear arguments today in the Department of Justice’s challenge to Texas abortion restrictions that went into effect in September.

• No vote on infrastructure yesterday: “US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi postponed a planned vote on a billion-dollar infrastructure bill Thursday evening during a stinging defeat for Democrats after the revolt of the Progressives, refusing their support until an agreement can be reached to promulgate the full scope of Joe Biden’s economic vision, ”reports The Guardian.

• The death of a newborn baby in Alabama is described as “the first confirmed death from a ransomware attack”, but it looks more like a case of medical negligence.

The AV Club calls Amazon’s new robot, Astro, “a creepy, invasive and ever-vigilant iPad with a cup holder welded to its ass.”

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