Here's how to cope with recent traumatic video of police encounters

The news cycle in recent days and weeks has been filled with videos depicting assaults and killings of Black people by law enforcement, all while the nation watches the trial of Derek Chauvin for his accused role in the killing of George Floyd, and mental health experts say there are ways to cope with the trauma of overexposure to these images.

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Dr. Nicole Alford, a licensed clinical pyschologist, says it begins with recognizing these kinds of images are traumatic and acknowledging the feelings they bring with them.

"We have to be aware of how they're making us feel while watching them, right after we've watched them and then of course sometimes several hours and sometimes days after watching them," Dr. Alford said.


On Monday, police released video of the killing of 20-year-old Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minn. An officer reportedly shot him during a traffic stop when she meant to pull out her Taser, according to police.

Closer to home, video of Windsor, Va. police pepper spraying Lt. Caron Nazario has gone viral and a Pentagon police officer is facing murder charges for shooting and killing two Black men in Takoma Park last week after he suspected them of breaking into cars.

READ MORE: Virginia police officer fired after accused of excessive force in traffic stop of Black Army officer

Dr. Alford suggests consuming media involving traumatic incidents in designated chunks and following the latest developments, but possibly without repeatedly watching the visuals.

Talking to a mental health professional is also key, Dr. Alford says, but some have struggled to find a therapist during the pandemic when many have been booked. Alternatives include seeking out online discussion and support groups as well as talking about traumatizing events with family or friends in a space in which people feel safe.

READ MORE: Daunte Wright shooting: Officer grabbed gun instead of taser, bodycam video released

Many states and DC offer mental health hotlines that can refer people to low cost services. The National Alliance on Mental Illness also offers online chats and support groups here.