Research on survivors of homicide has focused on various circumstances and the impact of homicide on family members and strangers. However, research regarding the survivors of individuals killed by police remains difficult to find. This particular kind of public, traumatic death of a loved one imposes unique and traumatic grief for the survivors. Per the 2014 FBI Uniform Crime Report, my family and I were one of an estimated 461 families affected by the death of a loved one due to police homicide in 2013. This estimate is low, however, because only thirty-three states voluntarily report such information, and law enforcement agencies are not required to report civilian deaths by police homicide. This narrative explores the impact of homicide by police on me as a survivor and mother as I coped with the death and trauma of my adult son’s death by police. Using short episodes of interactions, I analyze my experience and ongoing grief.
Homicide by Police: Coping with Traumatic Death
Elizabeth Stephens is a lecturer in the department of communication at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. She earned her PhD in Communication from the University of Memphis with a focus in health communication. Elizabeth’s academic interests include health narratives, grief, and pedagogy. She recently finished a series of interviews with mothers whose sons were killed by police.
- Views Icon Views
- Share Icon Share
- Search Site
Elizabeth Stephens; Homicide by Police: Coping with Traumatic Death. Journal of Autoethnography 11 May 2020; 1 (2): 111–121. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/joae.2020.1.2.111
Download citation file: