Original ArticlesDeaths Among Criminal Suspects, Law Enforcement Officers, Civilians, and Prison Inmates A Coroner-Based StudyKoehler, Steven A. MPH, PhD; Weiss, Hank MPH, PhD; Songer, Thomas J. PhD; Rozin, Leon MD; Shakir, Abdulrezzak MD; Ladham, Shaun MD; Omalu, Bennet MD; Dominick, Joseph RD, LFD; Wecht, Cyril H. MD, JD Author Information From the Allegheny County Coroner’s Office (S.A.K., L.R., A.S., S.L., B.O., J.D., C.H.W.) and the Center for Injury Research and Control, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA (H.W., T.J.S.). Manuscript received May 24, 2003; accepted May 29, 2003. Support for this research was provided by a small grant award from the Center for Injury Research and Control, University of Pittsburgh. Reprints: Steven A. Koehler, Allegheny County Coroner’s Office, 542 Fourth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15219. E-mail: [email protected] The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: December 2003 - Volume 24 - Issue 4 - p 334-338 doi: 10.1097/01.paf.0000097850.48559.86 Buy Metrics Abstract During the interaction between a criminal suspect and a law enforcement officer, the risk of death to the suspect, police, or civilians is increased. Unfortunately, very little information is available on the death risks arising from this interaction. This study provides an assessment of the risk of death to law enforcement officers, suspects, and bystanders by separating the interactions into the following 4 phases: (1) events prior to and during arrest; (2) police pursuits or chases; (3) transport of the suspects; and (4) during incarceration. A 5-year (1994–1998) retrospective coroner-based study of all deaths that occurred during these 4 phases was conducted in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. A total of 77 cases were identified; 14 deaths (18.1%) occurred prior to or during arrest, 10 (12.9%) during police chases, 2 (2.6%) occurred while the actors were being transported, and 51 (66.2%) during incarceration. The majority of cases (98.7%) were males, blacks (63.6%), and single (50.6%). The respective risks of death by phase were prearrest/arrest, 6.5 per 100,000 arrests; transport, 0.93 deaths per 100,000 arrests; and incarceration, 268 deaths per 100,000 inmates. Study showed the following: (1) risk of death to offenders was greatest during police pursuits; (2) the risks during arrests are not insignificant and involved an officer being threatened with a weapon in one-third of the events; and (3) deaths among inmates were primarily due to natural causes. © 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.