Hundreds Die in Police Custody Each Year

First federal figures break down causes of relatively rare events
By Lucas Laursen,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 12, 2007 3:20 PM CDT
This frame from pool video provided by KCBS-TV in Los Angeles shows the interior of a typical jail cell at the Century Regional Detention Facility in the Los Angeles suburb of Lynwood, Calif., seen Friday,...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – More than 2,000 people died during arrests in 2003-05, the first Justice Department figures on suspect deaths reveal, and more than half of them perished at the hands of law-enforcement officers.  Officers reported 80% of suspects they killed had threatened or assaulted them with a weapon, the Times reports.

Overall, deaths occurred in fewer than one ten-thousandth of 1 percent of 40 million arrests. Drugs accounted for 13% of the deaths, followed by suicide, accidents, and natural injuries. The number of deaths rose 13% over the 3 years of the study, driven mostly by a 63% growth in suicides. Three hundred eighty officers died during arrests.