Pain of police killings ripples outward to traumatize Black people and communities across US

Denise A. Herd

As the video goes public of Black police officers in Memphis beating Tyre Nichols to death, it is a stark reminder of George Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer in 2020. That set up the largest protests in U.S. history and a national reckoning with racism. But beyond any protests, every police killing – indeed, every violent act by police toward civilians – can have painful and widespread consequences.

Each year, U.S. police kill about 1,000 people, which equals approximately 8% of all homicides for adult men. This risk is greater for Black men, who are about 2.5 times more likely to be killed by the police than white men.

The effects of these killings ripple from the individual victim to their families and local communities as they cope with the permanence of injury, death and loss. People victimized by the police have demonstrated higher-than-usual rates of depression, psychological distress and even suicide risk.

But the pain doesn’t stop there….