BJS: Bureau of Justice Statistics

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Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)
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Home  | Terms & Definitions: Law Enforcement | Arrest-Related Deaths
Terms & Definitions: Arrest-Related Deaths

The act of detaining in legal custody. An "arrest" is the deprivation of a person's liberty by legal authority in response to a criminal charge.

Cause of death
A description of the specific factors leading to the termination of the biological functions that sustain life.

Killing of a human being by another human being. The Arrest-Related Deaths (ARD) program gathers data on homicides that occur during an arrest process regardless of whether the homicide was attributed to law enforcement personnel or a civilian. Homicides by law enforcement personnel were included in the ARD collection because they resulted from a direct use of force by law enforcement officers. However, not all homicides by law enforcement personnel involve shooting deaths. Other types of homicides by law enforcement officers included deaths attributed to asphyxia during restraint, injuries sustained during an altercation, and the use of technologies, such as chemical agents and conducted energy devices.

Manner of death
An explanation of how a person died, typically illustrated by a one word description of the intentions and circumstances that led to the stated medical cause of death. Essentially, the manner of death is the way in which death was caused and is typically listed as natural, accident, homicide, suicide, or undetermined.

Deaths attributed to natural agents, such as illness or internal malfunctions of the body. The majority of arrest-related deaths recorded as "natural" were due to heart complications. Other natural deaths included complications from long term illnesses.

Process of arrest
Any actions by law enforcement officers in an attempt to apprehend a criminal suspect. For the purposes of the Arrest-Related Deaths (ARD) program, a death occurring during the "process of arrest" can happen any time after a law enforcement officer invokes his or her authority to detain a criminal suspect and before custody of the suspect is transferred to a correctional authority.

Intentional killing of oneself. BJS recorded arrest-related deaths as suicides only if medical staff deemed the decedent deliberately took their life. The most common type of suicide reported to the Arrest-Related Deaths (ARD) program included decedents engaging in armed standoffs with law enforcement prior to taking their life. Other suicides occurred while law enforcement officers were attempting to apprehend the deceased, who committed suicide to avoid being taken into custody. Drug and alcohol overdoses were not considered to be suicides unless there was evidence the overdose was intentional. Unintentional over use of alcohol or drugs for recreational purposes were coded as intoxication deaths. Deaths submitted as suicide by cop were recorded in the ARD collection as homicides because the death was directly attributed to actions taken by law enforcement personnel.

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