The Ruderman Family Foundation released a study on March 8 that says as many as half the people who are killed by police officers in the U.S. have some kind of a disability.
The foundation, which advocates for social justice, also said that most of the publicized cases of police brutality included someone with a disability. The violence in those cases occurred whether or not the use of police force was deemed illegal or justified.
Jay Ruderman, the president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, stated in a press release:
This White Paper reveals that people with disabilities are senselessly being subjected to a disproportionate use of force by our police and many of these encounters are leading to unnecessary deaths.
Police forces need better practices, policies and procedures when interacting with people with disabilities so that harm by our law enforcement authorities is prevented.
Training is a necessary first step. Reforming the system follows closely behind. The rights of people with disabilities must be respected just like any other American citizen.
The foundation also noted that there is no comprehensive source of data that tracks how often police officers use force against people who have disabilities (or people without disabilities).
This is because there are no laws that require local, state or federal law enforcement agencies to provide these types of statistics, which means the only data that can be culled has to come from media coverage and the underreported numbers from the FBI.
Currently, law enforcement agencies voluntarily provide information about police killings to the FBI, which means many of these incidents are not reported.
In October 2015, FBI Director James Comey fumed about the lack of information: "You can get online today and figure out how many tickets were sold to ‘The Martian,’ which I saw this weekend. . . . The CDC can do the same with the flu,” reported The Washington Post.
“It’s ridiculous — it’s embarrassing and ridiculous — that we can’t talk about crime in the same way, especially in the high-stakes incidents when your officers have to use force,” Comey added.