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Years of life lost due to encounters with law enforcement in the USA, 2015–2016
  1. Anthony L Bui1,
  2. Matthew M Coates2,
  3. Ellicott C Matthay3
  1. 1 David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA
  2. 2 Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  3. 3 Division of Epidemiology, University of California at Berkeley School of Public Health, Berkeley, CA, USA
  1. Correspondence to Mr Anthony L Bui, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90066, USA; ALBui{at}


Background To inform discussions on rates, burden and priority-setting in relation to police violence, we quantified the number and rate of years of life lost (YLLs) due to police violence by race/ethnicity and age in the USA, 2015–2016.

Methods We used data on the number of deaths due to police violence from ‘The Counted’, a media-based source compiled by The Guardian. YLLs are the difference between an individual’s age at death and their corresponding standard life expectancy at age of death.

Results There were 57 375 and 54 754 YLLs due to police violence in 2015 and 2016, respectively. People of colour comprised 38.5% of the population, but 51.5% of YLLs. YLLs were greatest among those aged 25–34 years, and the number of YLLs at younger ages was greater among people of colour than whites.

Conclusions The number of YLLs due to police violence is substantial. YLLs highlight that police violence disproportionately impacts young people, and the young people affected are disproportionately people of colour. Framing police violence as an important cause of deaths among young adults provides another valuable lens to motivate prevention efforts.

  • violence
  • mortality
  • epidemiology
  • socio-economic
  • ethnicity

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  • ALB, MMC and ECM contributed equally.

  • Contributors All authors had full access to all the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. Study concept and design; acquisition, analysis and interpretation of the data; drafting of the manuscript; critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content; statistical analysis; administrative, technical and material support; and study supervision: all authors.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Ethics approval This study was deemed not to constitute human subjects research by the University of California, Berkeley Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement Data used in this study were obtained from public sources including the U.S. Census and ’The Counted' dataset from the newspaper, The Guardian.