Kicking and Trampling to Death

Pathological Features, Biomechanical Mechanisms, and Aspects of Victims and Perpetrators
  • Véronique Henn
  • Eberhard Lignitz
Part of the Forensic Pathology Reviews book series (FPR, volume 1)


Kicking and trampling to death is an entity of violence that increased considerably in the northeastern parts of Germany over the final years of the last century. Most of the injuries are located at the head followed by injuries of inner organs and thoracic bones. More than 50% of victims of kicking and trampling deaths have fractures of the calvaria, skull base, or facial bones. In such cases, subdural and subarachnoidal bleeding, brain contusion, and intra-cerebral hemorrhage is a frequent cause of death. The frequency of injuries deriving from defensive action is associated with the blood alcohol content (BAC) of the victim. These kinds of injuries are rare when the BAC of the victim is higher than 200 mg/dL, and injuries deriving from defensive action can be found in approximately 52% of the cases where the BAC is lower than 200 mg/dL. The injury pattern deriving from kicking and trampling is highly dependent on the location of the impact. Between the skin of the head and the skull there is only little adipose tissue so that the injury pattern often points out to the used underlying mechanism of violence. On occasion, a sole imprint pattern deriving from the shoe used as a “weapon” can be identified, whereas kicking and trampling to the abdomen can occur without leaving any characteristic morphological signs. Special computerized classification systems may enable the identification of a particular shoe by analyzing sole imprints on the victim’ s skin. Kicking as well as punching can be performed with the same energy (350–1200) without dependence on gender. Even kicking with bare feet can lead to fatal injuries. When the head of a victim is kicked, the head can experience a maximum acceleration comparable to that in a frontal car crash at 50 km/h. Many of the victims and perpetrators belong to lower social classes of society. Many of the victims have been repeatedly maltreated in the past and have been used to an environment where violence occurred frequently. In most cases, the offender acts alone. Perpetrators acting in a group are generally younger than offenders acting alone. In many cases with elder offenders, the existence of an intimate relationship between victim and perpetrator can be established. Group dynamics especially can have negative influence on social behavior patterns in these fatalities. In former East Germany, the frequency of killing by kicking and trampling has increased with the frequency of unemployment in specific regions.

Key Words

Kicking trampling blunt-force injuries injury pattern victims perpetrators 


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Véronique Henn
  • Eberhard Lignitz

There are no affiliations available

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