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Publication Arrest-Related Deaths in the United States, 2003-2005

Christopher J. Mumola

October 11, 2007    NCJ 219534

Presents the first findings from the law enforcement collection of the Deaths in Custody Reporting Program (DCRP), which is the largest resource of information ever collected on arrest-related deaths. The report provides counts of all arrest-related deaths reported by State authorities in over 40 States, over a three-year period (2003-2005), by cause of death and characteristics of the deceased. It also includes all manners of death during an arrest, including homicides (both those by officers and other persons), suicides, alcohol or drug intoxication deaths, accidental injuries, and fatal medical problems. The report presents counts of deaths by cause for each State. Appendix tables provide details on the circumstances surrounding arrest-related deaths including the criminal offenses for which the arrest attempt was made; the use of weapons or other behavior by the arrest subject; and use of weapons and restraint devices by officers involved in the arrest. The report also presents comparative counts of law enforcement homicides from DCRP and counts of justifiable homicides by police, collected by the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Reports program.


  • Homicides by law enforcement officers made up 55% (1,095) of all deaths during arrests by State and local agencies. Eleven homicides were committed by other persons present at the scene.
  • No other cause of death was reported half as often as homicide. Drug and alcohol intoxication accounted for 13% of all deaths, followed by suicides (12%), accidental injuries (7%), and illness or natural causes (6%).
  • Three-quarters of the law enforcement homicides reported to DCRP involved arrests for a violent crime. Except for suicides (51%), violent offenders were involved in less than 30% of all other causes of death. Public-order offenders accounted for 8% of homicides, followed by property (4%) and drug offenders (2%).

For additional data, see Deaths in Custody Statistical Tables.

Part of the Arrest-Related Deaths Series

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Deaths in Custody Reporting Program (DCRP)

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