Compensating Victims of Police Violence

24 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2020 Last revised: 15 Apr 2021

See all articles by Valena Elizabeth Beety

Valena Elizabeth Beety

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

Date Written: November 9, 2020


Victims of police violence suffer physical trauma and their families suffer mental trauma “born from the violation of a certain social trust.” The economically quantitative losses include medical expenses as well as lost income. While scholars and citizens have advocated for accountability and justice, this is the first essay to advocate for the simple act of victims’ compensation for victims of police violence.

Being recognized as a victim can mean a “release from shame,” the ability to share in the pain of others in similar situations, sympathy, and a crime or a cause to rally against. Being recognized as a victim can also mean tangible rights and services from the state. However, in the crime victim compensation realm, victims must first prove their status as victims, regardless of the severity of the harm they have suffered. Victims of police violence are frequently unable to prove they are victims and that they thus qualify for state compensation funds.

Instead, victims of police violence are inordinately and openly blamed for their own injuries in police reports. Blame-shifting and determining that the victim is contributorily at fault shield police officers from accountability. If neither police nor prosecutors identify the people harmed as victims, then injured people often will not qualify for Victim Compensation Funds to receive mental health treatment or medical care.

This essay unfolds in three sections, beginning by acknowledging police violence in the United States and the disparate impact of such violence on communities of color. The essay next identifies who qualifies as a victim for Victim Compensation Funds and why police violence victims rarely receive compensation. The essay concludes by highlighting ways that state legislators and district attorneys can make victims of police violence eligible for consideration of funds.

Keywords: police, victim, compensation, criminal, justice, shooting

Suggested Citation

Beety, Valena Elizabeth, Compensating Victims of Police Violence (November 9, 2020). Emory Law Journal, Vol. 70, 2021, Available at SSRN: or

Valena Elizabeth Beety (Contact Author)

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law ( email )

Box 877906
Tempe, AZ 85287-7906
United States

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