Concerns over Stun Guns grow

San Luis Obispo Tribune


In a report being released Tuesday, Amnesty International says stun guns are being abused by police and wants more scientific study done to determine whether the devices are safe. Amnesty says at least 74 people have died in the United States and Canada in the past four years after being shocked with Tasers. The group also says officers have turned stun guns on the mentally disturbed, children and the elderly...


Taser ad blitz touts consumer stun gun

Arizona Republic


Just in time for the holiday season, Scottsdale-based Taser International is marketing a consumer version of the electric stun gun carried by police officers nationwide. A newspaper and billboard advertising campaign began this month in Phoenix, the only city where the advertisements are running. Tasers fire a pair of darts that deliver a debilitating electrical charge. The stun guns are used by about 1,150 law enforcement departments and have been credited with reducing police shootings. 'Given the violence out there and the overall success with law enforcement, this is the operative tool for self-defense,' company spokesman Steve Tuttle said. 'It can stop the most dangerous individuals, which most non-lethal weapons cannot. This is the answer to stop those people safely.' But while the company insists Tasers are non-lethal, some evidence links them to deaths...


Informant: Thomas L. Knapp


As orders soar, concerns over stun guns grow
Fatalities arouse worries over abuse of shock devices

From Korean Air flight crews to U.S. police and corrections officers to beat cops in Britain, the orders are pouring in for stun guns made by Taser International Inc. The Scottsdale, Ariz., company even recently launched a metro Phoenix ad campaign urging private citizens to arm themselves with the weapons, which temporarily paralyze people with a 50,000-volt jolt. Yet while Taser’s stock has soared with the booming business, concerns are growing about whether the shock-inducing guns are truly as non-lethal as advertised.

In a report being released Tuesday, Amnesty International says stun guns are being abused by police and wants more scientific study done to determine whether the devices are safe.


Warning on police use of stun guns after 74 die

THE use of stun guns by British police must remain tightly controlled after a report showed dozens have died from their use in North America, a human rights group has warned. Amnesty International has published a study which claims that 74 people have been killed after US and Canadian police shot them with the Taser gun. The organisation also called for a "rigorous, independent and impartial" study into the weapons, which deliver a 50,000-volt shock to disable suspects. In September, the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, announced Tasers were to be authorised for police firearms officers across England and Wales, following a successful trial. Amnesty said Tasers had been used in the US against unruly schoolchildren as young as nine; pregnant women, one of whom lost her baby shortly afterwards; unarmed, mentally- ill people; and those who simply ignored a police officer’s instructions. Amnesty’s UK director, Kate Allen, said: "In some cases, simply walking away from a police officer has led to people getting a 50,000-volt electric shock. Is this a glimpse into the future of UK policing?

"With over 70 deaths following Taser use in the US, surely we must have a full inquiry into their effects before the government even considers any wider deployment on Britain’s streets.


Taser on children OK, police say

Officials from a majority of law enforcement agencies in Volusia and Flagler counties say they would not hesitate to shoot a child with a Taser stun gun to keep the youngster from harming himself or someone else. The Taser policies of law enforcement agencies in both counties require police to consider everything from a suspect's age to physical and mental condition, but no local agency specifically prohibits using the weapon on a child. "There are those youths out there that are just as capable of hurting someone as any 18-year-old," said Sgt. Pete Moon of the DeLand Police Department. "Each scenario is different." Debra Johnson, a spokeswoman with the Flagler County Sheriff's Office, agreed that age wasn't the only deciding factor. "There are some 12 year-olds out there that are bigger than some adults," she said.

The weapons are equipped with electric barbs that penetrate the skin and transmit an electric shock of up to 50,000 volts from the Taser. Tasers also may be used as a stun gun by pressing the weapon against the skin.


USA / Canada: Pattern of abuse -- suspend use of taser guns

Excessive and lethal force? Amnesty International's concerns about deaths and ill-treatment involving police use of tasers
More than 70 people in the USA and Canada have died since 2001, after being electro-shocked with taser guns. While coroners have generally attributed cause of death to factors such as drug intoxication, in at least five cases they have found the taser played a role. "Tasers have been used by police officers against unruly schoolchildren; unarmed mentally disturbed or intoxicated individuals; suspects fleeing minor crime scenes and people who argue with police or fail to comply immediately with a command," said Amnesty International today as it launched two new reports examining the use of taser guns in the USA and Canada. Evidence suggests that, far from being restricted to narrowly-defined circumstances in order to avoid lethal force, tasers have become the most prevalent force tool in some police departments. More than 5,000 law enforcement and correctional agencies in 49 US states are currently reported to be deploying or testing taser equipment, with the take-up rate continuing to grow. In Canada approximately 60 police departments have been issued with tasers.

Despite being widely deployed, there has been no rigorous, independent and impartial study into the use and effects of tasers, particularly in the case of people suffering from heart disease, or under the influence of drugs.


Stun gun use on prisoners probed

AMNESTY International has asked the US Defence Department whether the military used Taser electric stun guns on prisoners in Iraq or Afghanistan, saying it is uneasy about reports of mistreatment and abuse. The human rights group said it had made the request under the Freedom of Information Act after interviewing dozens of prisoners formerly held by US forces. "We do have credible evidence that certainly raises the question that Tasers might have been used," Gerald Le Melee, Amnesty International USA's deputy executive director, said today. Amnesty has long expressed misgivings about the safety of Tasers and whether they are open to abuse because they can inflict severe pain without leaving marks.

The group has urged law enforcement agencies to suspend the use of all electroshock weapons pending the outcome of a vigorous independent inquiry into whether the weapons pose health risks.


Aftermath News
Top Stories - December 2nd, 2004

Man Dies After Police Use Taser Gun On Him

A man died Wednesday night after he was shot with a Taser gun by police officers in Hollywood. The incident began around 8 p.m. when a rescue crew saw a man walking down the 7400 block of Sheridan Street. Crews spotted the man after police had received a call about a white van driving erratically, and suspected the man was the driver. Crews thought there had been an accident, so they went to render help, but the man apparently became unruly. Police were summoned to the scene. During the ensuing altercation, a female officer shot the man with an M-26 Taser gun, which carries a charge of 50,000 volts. Officers said they were unsure why the man became unruly. "They don't know what the problem is with him. Is he having a medical need, or is he intoxicated, they're not quite sure.

Somehow, someway, a confrontation occurs between the officers and this individual, and one of our female police officers deployed her M-26 Taser on our individual," Hollywood Police Capt. Tony Rode said. The 36-year-old man was taken to Memorial Regional Hospital, where he died. The cause of death has not been determined. An investigation is under way.

Another man died after police used an M-26 Taser gun on him in 2003.


Aftermath News
Top Stories - December 20th, 2004


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