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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 155396 Find in a Library
Title: Pepper Spray Update: More Fatalities, More Questions
Corporate Author: American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California
United States of America
Date Published: 1995
Page Count: 61
Sponsoring Agency: American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Sale Source: American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California
1616 Beverly Blvd.
P.O. Box 26907
Los Angeles, CA 90026
United States of America
Type: Survey
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Oleoresin Capsicum (pepper spray) was legalized for police use in California in October 1992; by May 1995, State police officers and sheriff's deputies had used pepper spray nearly 16,000 times.
Abstract: Nonetheless, there are mounting concerns over the health risks associated with pepper spray, particularly in regard to fatalities of suspects in custody who were repeatedly sprayed. This document identifies 26 deaths among people who were pepper-sprayed in California between January 1994 and June 1995. Although pepper spray was not identified as the cause of death in any of these cases, State scientists have warned that little is known about residual effects of the substance, and that medical examiners might not know what to look for during an autopsy. This report found that in all 26 fatality cases, the victims were male; 54 percent were white, 19 percent black, and 27 percent Latino. In half of all cases, the types of police restraint techniques used contributed to the cause of death or were identified as the primary cause of death. All the victims were acting irrationally at the time of their arrest, but the use of pepper spray was ineffective in calming them down. Nearly one-third of the fatalities reported here have led to lawsuits against California law enforcement agencies. The report recommends the development of emergency restrictions on pepper spray to limit exposure for people who may be at increased risk and the adoption of model policies for pepper spray use. 4 figures and 2 appendixes
Main Term(s): Police Brutality
Index Term(s): California; Custody deaths; Lawful use of force; Physical restraints; Science and Technology
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