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Years of life lost due to encounters with law enforcement in the USA, 2015–2016

Abstract

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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