Eliel Paulino was less than a block from his apartment complex late one night in 2015 when red police lights flashed in his SUV’s rearview mirror. After he pulled into his parking lot, police told him the light on his license plate was out.

Within minutes, a routine traffic stop became a beatdown, court records show. An officer yelled at Paulino to stop talking, then pulled him to the ground. A second policeman jabbed his baton into Paulino’s gut; a third struck him more than a dozen times with a baton. An emergency room doctor needed four staples to close the wounds in Paulino’s battered right arm.

In police reports, officers claimed that Paulino fought and resisted arrest; video from a security camera showed he did not. The city paid Paulino $700,000 after a jury found the beating violated his constitutional rights.

“The San Jose Police Department has a problem using excessive force,” the jury forewoman, Jessica Erickson, said in an interview. “It needs to stop.”

In the national conversation about policing over the past year, public attention has focused on those who die at the hands of officers. Americans know the names of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, and others killed by cops. Few know that tens of thousands of people like Paulino end up in the ER after run-ins with police.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that since 2015, more than 400,000 people have been treated in emergency rooms because of violent interactions with police or security guards. But there’s almost no nationwide data on the nature or circumstances of their injuries. Many of the country’s roughly 18,000 law enforcement agencies don’t tally or make public the number of people who need medical care after officers break their arms, bruise their faces or shock them with Tasers.

Researchers point out that only a tiny portion of arrests involve force. But when police do use force, more than half the incidents ended with a suspect or bystander getting hurt, according to a 2020 analysis. It’s unclear how serious the harm is. “We need better data on injury severity,” said Matthew Hickman, a professor at Seattle University and one of the study’s authors.

Many experts agree that injuries at the hands of cops remain underreported.

Read the full article about police violence by Simone Weichselbaum, Lisa Riordan Seville, Emily Siegel, Joseph Neff, and Abbie Vansickle at The Marshall Project.