Up to half of the Americans killed by police have a disability

Police violence is America is a statistical black hole, where data collection on shootings and killings are kept in haphazard or nonexistent form across local, state and federal levels, leaving scholars to piece together statistical pictures using techniques developed to reconstruct genocides from survivors' accounts.

Dominican University historian David M Perry and disability rights activist Lawrence Carter-Long have collaborated on a paper for the Ruderman Family Foundation (a disability rights nonprofit) that attempts to determine the proportion disabled people among those killed by America's police.

They concluded that up to half of the people killed by police in America had some form of disability, including mental illness, autism, developmental delays, and other problems that make it difficult for people to communicate with police and understand police instructions.


After examining coverage over the past three years, Perry and Carter-Long say it is shocking that the prevalence of disability is not being accurately, or commonly, reported. “Media coverage of police violence fails to recognise or report the disability element when Americans are injured or killed by law enforcement, resulting in their stories being segregated from the issue in the media,” they conclude.


Raising public awareness is vital to build pressure for change, and this is urgently needed in demonstrating the links between police aggression and disability. We know from campaigning work in the UK and the US that encountering the police or criminal justice system can be an extremely traumatic, confusing and, at worst, deadly experience for someone with a serious mental health problem or with intellectual disabilities.

Up to half of people killed by US police are disabled
[Mary O'Hara/Guardian]

(via Naked Capitalism)