Sudden death during physical restraint by the Dutch police

L. G. M. Dijkhuizen*, Bela Kubat, W. L. J. M. Duijst

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Background: and goal: The Police is sometimes confronted with the death of a subject during physical restraint. In most of these cases a clear Cause of Death (COD) cannot be determined by the Pathologist. The goal of this research is to find and clarify a pattern and pinpoint a clearer COD. Method: The research group is compiled of 38 closed police case files from the NPIID (National Police Internal Investigation Department) between 2005 and 2016. The control group is compiled of cases involving excitation and restraint, without leading to death. 148 cases were included from the NPIID between 2005 and 2016 and the Violence Registration Database of the Dutch National Police between 2014 and 2015. Case files of both the research and the control group were systematically analyzed and compared. Results and conclusion: The observed patter shows that subjects dying during Physical Restraint are mostly males between 30 and 40 years old with a BMI above 30 kg/m2. Both BMI and age are remarkably lower in the control group. Subjects were encountered in a state of excitation mostly attributed to (multiple) drugs (cocaine, MDMA or cannabis). The physical restraint portrayed a pattern of escalation with restraint being mostly face-down, hands cuffed to the back, receiving thoracic pressure, resulting in a high total amount of force used. In the research group 44.7% (17/38) of subjects were encountered (partially) unclothed versus 4.1% (6/148) in the control group. Cause of death in these cases seems to be multifactorial and is comprised of both personal factors and factors during and after the struggle. The different factors are comingled and augment each other. The end effect is that the subjects end up in a fatal spiral.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101966
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Forensic and Legal Medicine
Publication statusPublished - May 2020

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