The Effects of Police Brutality on the Mental Health of a Community

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The Effects of Police Brutality on the Mental Health of a Community

Each year, approximately 300 Black Americans are killed by police. Roughly a quarter of the people killed are unarmed. These killings, along with other documented acts of police misconduct have a much wider effect. If you have been the victim of police misconduct, the Helbraun Law Firm can fight for you. We have won settlements for police brutality victims.

Police brutality affects entire communities and the Black population nationwide. It goes beyond a mistrust of the police. Misconduct and unjustified killings are detrimental to the mental health of not only people who live in the communities but also the entire country. 

When you need to take on the police department, call the Helbraun Law Firm at (415) 982-4000. We have negotiated settlements with police departments on behalf of our clients. Do not believe that the police will dig in and never settle. When faced with the law and poor publicity, the police can be made to do the right thing.

Police Misconduct Affects Entire Communities 

Unjust policing impacts the day-to-day lives of community residents, who live in fear of what may happen next. The specter of police brutality casts a shadow over Black communities, where residents live in fear of the police. The humiliation of potentially being degraded by police, and the stress of unpredictability, can cause both generalized depression and heightened anxiety. Blacks are subject to ongoing indignities and must continuously remain in a state of heightened vigilance. 

How Police Brutality Harms Mental Health

Police brutality does not just cause harm to physical safety in the communities in which it occurs. Research shows that the psychological effects of discriminatory and unjust policing have a grave mental effect on communities that are subject to it. 

Police misconduct is associated with:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Police Misconduct Affects Not Just Victims

These conditions affect the day-to-day lives of those who live in the specter of police misconduct and brutality. One does not have to be a victim of actual police brutality to experience these conditions. Just knowing that one can be subject to harsh and illegal policing is enough to cause mental health issues. Major and serious instances of people misconduct have affected Blacks nationwide and not just those who live in the area that was directly affected by the illegal action. There is a collective trauma that results from police misconduct that remains, especially because systemic racism among police forces has not been restrained by changes to the law. 

The effects are even worse among Blacks who live in the area where there was a police killing of an unarmed person. These killings were responsible for up to 14 days of poor mental health for Black residents of the area. The effects are the most profound in the first month of two after the killing. Residents justifiably have an inherent mistrust of the police officers that they see, along with a fear that it could happen to them too. 

The mental health effects are made worse by the fact that many instances of police brutality are captured on video. The shooting of Philandro Castille and the murder of George Floyd were on video for the entire world to see. For many, the trauma of seeing these videos will stay with them for a lifetime. 

You Can File a Lawsuit Against the Police for Misconduct

From a legal perspective, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the government if you have been the victim of police brutality. Federal civil rights laws forbid police from depriving you of your rights under the color of law. Police brutality is a prime example of depriving you of your rights. You may be entitled to significant financial compensation. If you have suffered physical and emotional injuries from police misconduct, the government may need to pay. From 2010 to 2023, the San Francisco Police Department paid more than $70 million in total settlements (plus attorney’s fees) to victims of police misconduct. Attorney David M. Helbraun can help you fight back when you have been harmed by a bad actor in the police department.

Contact a San Francisco Civil Rights and Police Misconduct Lawyer Today

Contact the Helbraun Law Firm today if you or a family member has been a victim of police misconduct. While it is hard to fight back on your own, you stand a much higher chance of getting justice when a police misconduct lawyer is standing up for you. Accountability may be only a phone call away. Call us today at (415) 982-4000 to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our police misconduct lawyers. You pay us nothing from your pocket, and our legal fees may be paid if you win your case. 


Bor, J., Venkataramani, A. S., Williams, D. R., & Tsai, A. C. (2018). Police killings and their spillover effects on the mental health of black Americans: a population-based, quasi-experimental study. The Lancet, 392(10144), 302–310.

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