Rubber bullet injury: case report with autopsy observation and literature review

Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2009 Sep;30(3):262-7. doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e318187dfa8.


Rubber bullets are one of the less-lethal (nonlethal) weapons, which are increasingly used to incapacitate dangerous individuals, avoiding use of firearms. An autopsy examination of a man who was shot with improved rubber bullets revealed that the bullet caused pulmonary contusion. The bullet was 30 g in weight and consisted of a sponge foam nose with 40-mm diameter and a plastic body. He was not incapacitated and died of suicidal gunshot wound. The case raised a question as to how severe an injury is necessary to deter a person without causing death. A variety of rubber bullets have been used in the world, and they have occasionally produced severe or lethal injuries. A review of the literature demonstrated that the feature of injuries appeared to be related to the type of missile. It becomes more important for a forensic pathologist to be familiar with rubber bullets and injuries caused by them as the use of less-lethal weapon increases.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arm Injuries / pathology
  • Contusions / pathology*
  • Forensic Ballistics
  • Forensic Pathology
  • Head Injuries, Penetrating / pathology
  • Hemorrhage / pathology
  • Humans
  • Lung Injury / pathology*
  • Male
  • Police
  • Rubber*
  • Soft Tissue Injuries / pathology*
  • Suicide
  • Wounds, Gunshot / pathology*


  • Rubber