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NCJ Number: 204029 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Deaths in Police Confrontations When Oleoresin Capsicum is Used
Author(s): Charles S. Petty M.D.
Corporate Author: University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
United States of America
Date Published: 2002
Page Count: 51
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice (NIJ)
Washington, DC 20531
NCJRS Photocopy Services
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Dallas, TX 75390
Grant Number: 2001-M7-56
Sale Source: NCJRS Photocopy Services
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
United States of America

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
5323 Harry Hines Blvd.
Dallas, TX 75390
United States of America
Document: PDF
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This document discusses fatal incidents in which law enforcement officers use oleoresin capsicum (O.C.) to control a subject.
Abstract: O.C. is in the form of a stream or spray and is employed widely by law enforcement as a less-than-lethal weapon to accomplish individual or crowd control. Questions have arisen as to the safety in using O.C., both to the target person and to the officer that employs it. This study examined 63 cases on the basis of details of the law enforcement confrontation and modified by examination of the pathologic and toxicologic information. All of these cases involved drugs, disease, and drugs and disease combined with confrontational situations. In 7 of the 63 cases the cause of death was due to "position asphyxia" because the position of the subject can not use the normal and accessory muscles to adequately move air in-and -out of the lungs. The subject is usually lying face down, hands cuffed behind, the subject lies on his abdomen, which forces the abdominal contents up against the diaphragm inhibiting its use. Thirty-two of the 63 cases were subdivided as such. The results show that there is no evidence that O.C. as used by law enforcement officers in confrontational situations is a total or contributing cause of death, except when pre-existing asthma (or disease-narrowed airways) is present. As a tool for the law enforcement officer, O.C. ranks at the low end of the escalation of force scale and is relatively innocuous. The effectivity of O.C. is approximately 1 in 5, but this study included violent subjects alone, so violent that death ensued from the confrontation. 8 references, 7 tables
Main Term(s): Custody deaths; Oleoresin Capsicum (OC)/Pepper Spray
Index Term(s): Chemical irritants; Fatalities; Lawful use of force; Less lethal technologies; NIJ grant-related documents; Riot control agents; Weapons
Note: Dataset may be archived by the NIJ Data Resources Program at the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data
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