Why studies on police restrictions are now being judged
It is impossible to know the precise number of custody death investigations that the San Diego research influenced, in part because it was used to ensure that such cases never reach a courtroom. A joint survey by news channels in Minneapolis and Denver have counted more than 113 duress-related deaths since 2010, costing taxpayers $ 70 million in wrongful death benefits. Criminal charges against officers in such cases are extremely rare.
But as deadly police encounters come under increasing scrutiny, so does the research – a growing number of experts argue that it is flawed and has been applied too widely. Studies do not, and ethically cannot, replicate the stress and violence of real police chases, and critics say they ignore physical vulnerabilities including drug use, obesity and pre-existing health problems, many people who end up being subjected.
A leading medical journal on Thursday published a new study that found deadly police violence is often misclassified, in part because forensic scientists identify other reasons for deaths in custody.
Some critics of the restraint research had hoped its influence would deepen after Derek Chauvin’s murder trial this year in Mr. Floyd’s death. Mr Chauvin’s lawyers tried to use the research to strengthen their defense, but the prosecution’s star expert witness called it “very misleading”, explaining in detail how the officers’ position and weight forced Mr. Floyd to fight for the air. Mr. Chauvin was sentenced.
“I was like, ‘This is it, they’ll never be able to defend stomach restraint again,'” said Dr. Alon Steinberg, chief of cardiology at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura, Calif., And author of a recent article on chest restraint and cardiac arrest. But the San Diego studies continued to trick officers into believing the technique is safe, he said, and gave the legal system a way to excuse their actions.
“People are dying all the time, and we don’t do anything about it,” said Dr Steinberg, who has worked as a consultant in cases against police officers. “I want to shout it out to everyone: let’s stop this now. “