By Frederick H. Lowe
Police killings of unarmed African Americans have a deep psychological effect on the entire black community, causing many who weren’t in the line of fire to feel psychically wounded, according to a study published by The Lancet, a weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal.
Police killings of unarmed black Americans add 1 to 7 additional poor-mental health days per person per year or 55 million excess poor mental-health days among black Americans, resulting in their suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the report titled, “Police killings and their spillover effects on the mental health of black Americans: a population-based, quasi-experimental study.”
The report focused on the number of days in which the person questioned said his mental health suffered noticeably after learning of deadly police shooting of an unarmed black person in their city or state. Police kill more than 300 blacks each year and at least a quarter of them, or 75, are unarmed.
The list of unarmed black men killed by police is long and continues to grow. These victims include Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray and Stephon Clark. Most recently, Antwon Rose, Jr., 17, was killed when Michael Rosfeld, an East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, police officer, shot him three times in the back as he ran from a traffic stop.
In 2017, 25 percent of the people killed by police were black although blacks comprise only 13 percent of the nation’s population. Some were armed and some were not. There were only 17 days in 2017 when the police did not kill someone.
Following the police murder of Michael Brown, which set off days of civil unrest and demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri, where the shooting occurred, researchers said blacks reported suffering from high rates of depression.
Dorian Johnson was walking with Brown when the teenager was shot to death by Darren Wilson, a police officer. Johnson said he suffered from depression following the shooting.
The study did not address how deadly police shooting in other parts of the country affected blacks who read about them in the newspapers, hear about them on the radio, watched television news reports or read news stories about the deadly shooting online.
The study also did not report how deadly shootings affected blacks when police are assigned to desk duty but are later are acquitted of all the charges related to the killings.
The website Mapping Police Violence reported that in 2015 99 percent of cases have not resulted in involved officers being convicted of a crime.