BoSox fan death and Paintballs

I thought the dead woman was hit with a much bigger projectile, so I didn’t look into this:

…The reason trauma to the globe does not cause death can be derived from standard evolutionary principles. Surely if this mechanism (direct blow to the globe) were fatal, our eyes would have developed behind calcium cages; however, the solution evolution worked out was to create a relatively closed-pressure chamber (the retro orbital space) with thin walls so that any backward-directed force on the globe would “blow out”? one of the thin surrounding walls rather than direct the force posteriorly to the central cerebral structures. So by teleological reasoning, the woman shot in the eye with an exploding pepper ball should not have died.

That’s the real news story here.

I agree, and I’ll bet the City of Boston regrets taking full responsibility for this death so quickly (that’s why I noticed and then dismissed this, the rapidity of the Municipal mea culpa).

I have yet to see someone hit with anything short of a bullet in the eye who expired. This can be because: a) they died before they were sent to the ED (doubtful, but cannot be completely dismissed), b) I haven’t seen everything (possible), or, c) it doesn’t happen (most probable). Elsewhere in my blog I have x-rays and CT’s of a person with a nail through their eye that was non-fatal. I don’t for a minute believe that a paintball striking the eye can cause death. I understand the kinetics are different, but having now thought about it, I don’t for a minute think that this Police projectile caused this death.

My request/demand to the City of Boston: Let’s see the autopsy results, and answer the question. Then this either rests, and I eat my words, or we know Something Else Happened. Given that this is the death of a civilian at the hands of the Police, this is a reasonable and rational request.

Interesting question, and many thanks to CodeBlueBlog for pointing it out. Let’s all hope there’s a public answer.

via Blogborygmi


  1. I do agree with you and CSI Medblog that a pepperball in the eye should not have been a direct cause of death. I have found a photo, however, of bruising to the back caused by a pepperball gun. If this is the remnant bruising in the back, imaging the effect of taking one in the eye.

    In a different subject, I am finding blogborygmi to have a great variety of medical blog items. However, it is not formatted for a RSS feed (unlike GruntDoc). What a shame! RSS aggregators do a great job of creating a news page filled only with items of particular interest to the reader. It’s a real time-saver vs having to click the full round of blogs each night to see if anything is new.

    Compliments to GruntDoc for being “with it” on RSS.

  2. Daniel Newby says:

    Keep in mind that the projectile in question dispensed a gram or so of powdered capsaicin (the “hot” chemical in peppers) into the wound. That’s A LOT of capsaicin! Even without an allergy it might provoke a major systemic response.

  3. THere is an article from Annals of Emergency Medicine about 3 or 4 years ago regarding injuries from police ballistics like bean bags. If the bag does not unfold after leaving the barrel, it acts as a bullet-like projectile. Great article with good photos and images.