Police custody deaths and the fallacy of sickle cell causation

From Scientific American:

The New York Times recently conducted an important investigation revealing the use of sickle cell trait (SCT) as a cover-up for the deaths of Black people at the hands of police while in custody. The newspaper reported finding 47 cases in the past 25 years in which medical examiners, law enforcement officials or defenders of accused officers cited the trait as a cause or major factor in a Black person’s death in custody, with 15 of these deaths occurring since 2015. As hematologists who specialize in both SCT and sickle cell disease, we appreciate the importance of highlighting the disturbing information uncovered by this investigation, including ascriptions of SCT as a causative factor in the death of individuals who have been “roughed up” by the police.

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