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A Literature Review of “Death, injury and disability from kinetic impact projectiles in crowd-control settings: a systematic review” (Haar, Iacopino, Ranadive, Dandu, & Weiser, 2017)

According to a review of worldwide literature (26 articles) between 1990 and 2017 regarding deaths, injuries, and permanent disability from rubber and plastic bullets, bean bag rounds, shot pellets, and other projectiles used during arrests, protests, and in other contexts, it was discovered that rubber or plastic bullets (also known as kinetic impact projectiles or KIPs) were commonly used in crowd-control settings and caused significant morbidity and mortality.

With the United States currently experiencing an increase in the number of protests occurring daily with regards to political and current events, it is only fitting that we need to address the safety of the individuals who are protesting. Law enforcement has been presented a challenge with regards to keeping the protestors and the businesses safe from protests that are not peaceful. Therefore, they have had to implement the use of crowd-control weapons (CCWs) that can ultimately cause preventable injury, disability, and death. KIPs are CCWs that are designed to “incapacitate individuals by inflicting pain or sublethal injury.” Some KIPs target with a single projectile while others target groups with multiple projectiles. There are more than 75 types of these KIPs that can cause blunt and penetrative injuries causing both injury and death.

Data was included from Israel/Palestine, UK/Northern Ireland, South Asia, USA, Switzerland, and Turkey. Of the 26 studies reviewed, data on 1984 people with injuries, permanent disabilities, and deaths was compiled. Of these, 300 individuals were permanently disabled, 1631 people recovered from their injuries, and 53 people died from their injuries. The types of injuries were noted to be penetrative injuries (56% of deaths) and blunt injuries (23% of deaths). Of the 1931 people who survived, there were 2135 injuries, 71% of which were severe. Nearly all body systems were involved with the most frequent injuries being to the skin and extremities. Head and neck, ocular, nervous, cardiovascular, pulmonary and thoracic, abdominal and urogenital injuries were almost always severe. 87% of injuries to the limbs were severe.

In conclusion, it was determined that given the inherent inaccuracy of KIPs and the risk of serious injury or death, that KIPs are not an appropriate means of force in crowd-control settings. There was limited data and it was determined that more research was required to better understand regional differences in usage, policy, and accountability. It was felt that international guidelines needed to be developed.

Note: This is a literature review of the referenced article and is not reflective of any opinions of the staff or experts at Godoy Medical Forensics, Inc.


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