Suicide by Cop Among Officer-Involved Shooting Cases
Article first published online: 11 FEB 2009
© 2009 American Academy of Forensic Sciences
Journal of Forensic Sciences
Volume 54, Issue 2, pages 456–462, March 2009
How to Cite
Mohandie, K., Meloy, J. R. and Collins, P. I. (2009), Suicide by Cop Among Officer-Involved Shooting Cases. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 54: 456–462. doi: 10.1111/j.1556-4029.2008.00981.x
- Issue published online: 24 FEB 2009
- Article first published online: 11 FEB 2009
- Received 1 Feb. 2008; and in revised form 8 May 2008; accepted 1 June 2008.
- forensic science;
- officer-involved shootings;
- police use of force;
- police deadly force encounters;
- police less lethal force encounters
Abstract: The frequency and characteristics of suicide by cop cases (SBC) among a large (n = 707) nonrandom sample of North American officer-involved shootings (OIS) were investigated. “Suicide by cop” is when a subject engages in behavior which poses an apparent risk of serious injury or death, with the intent to precipitate the use of deadly force by law enforcement against the subject. Thirty-six percent of the OIS in this sample were found to be SBC with high interrater agreement (intraclass correlation coefficient = 0.93) for category classification. SBC cases were more likely to result in the death or injury of the subjects than regular OIS cases. Most SBC cases were spontaneous, but had clear verbal and behavioral indicators that occurred prior to, and during the event. Findings confirm the trend detected in earlier research that there was a growing incidence of SBC among OIS. SBC individuals had a high likelihood of possessing a weapon (80%), which was a firearm 60% of the time. Half of those with a firearm discharged it at the police during the encounter. Nineteen percent simulated weapon possession to accomplish their suicidal intent. Other findings highlight the histories and commonalities in this high risk group.