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How a Genetic Trait in Black People Can Give the Police Cover

When they carried the body of a 32-year-old Black man named Lamont Perry out of the woods in Wadesboro, N.C., there were no protests over his sudden death in police custody.

No reporters camped at the scene. No lawyers filed suit.

Instead, the final mark in the ledger of Mr. Perry’s life was made by a state medical examiner who attributed his death in large part to sickle cell trait, a genetic characteristic that overwhelmingly occurs in Black people. The official word was that he had died by accident.

Response to New York Times investigation on sickle cell trait being cited in police custody deaths: The American Society of Hematology has issued an updated position statement asserting that it is medically inaccurate to claim sickle cell trait as a cause of death based solely on the presence of sickled cells at autopsy.

ASH Position on Sickle Cell Trait


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