Taser safety issues

The use of Tasers and similar electroshock weapons as part of routine police work has become a source for controversy in the wake of several deaths attributed to the devices.Fact|date=July 2008

Safety

Taser International has admitted in a training bulletin that repeated blasts of a taser can "impair breathing and respiration". Also, on Taser's website [Taser International, Inc., homepage. [http://www.taser.com/] ] it is stated that, for a subject in a state known as "excited delirium" (a controversial term in itself), repeated or prolonged stuns with the Taser can contribute to "significant and potentially fatal health risks". In such a state, physical restraint by the police coupled with the exertion by the subject are considered likely to result in death or more injuries. Critics alledge that Electroshock devices can burn skin with its electric arc and can damage delicate electrical equipment such as pacemakers.Fact|date=May 2008

It is assumed that tasers as well as all other high voltage stun devices can cause cardiac arrhythmia in susceptible subjects, possibly leading to heart attack or death in minutes by ventricular fibrillation (which leads to cardiac arrest and if not treated immediately to sudden death).Fact|date=January 2007 People susceptible to this outcome are sometimes healthy and unaware of their susceptibility.Fact|date=February 2007

Critics argue that although the medical conditions or illegal drug-taking among some of the casualties may have been the proximate cause of death, the electric blast of the taser can significantly heighten such risk for subjects in an at-risk category. [ USAAmnesty International’s concerns about Taser use, [http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engamr511512007 Statement to the U.S. Justice Department inquiry into deaths in custody] Accessed on December 2, 2007] This suggests that tasers and other electroshock weapons would be dangerous to use on people with certain medical conditions and yet, since police officers will typically not know about a person's medical history or possible drug use, this entails a risk of death with virtually any suspect.

While they are not technically considered lethal, some authorities and non-governmental organizations question both the degree of safety presented by the weapon and the ethical implications of using a weapon that some, such as sections of Amnesty International, allege is inhumane. As a consequence, Amnesty International Canada and other civil liberties organizations have argued that a moratorium should be placed on taser use until research can determine a way for them to be safely used.cite web|publisher=CBC News|title=In depth: Tasers|url=http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/tasers/|accessdate=2007-11-12] Amnesty International has documented over 245 deaths that occurred after the use of tasers. [ [http://www.hometownglenburnie.com/vault/cgi-bin/gazette/view/2007G/05/23-25.HTM County police getting Tasers] May 23, 2007] Police sources question whether the taser was the actual cause of death in those cases, as many of the deaths occurred in people with serious medical conditions and/or severe drug intoxication, often to the point of excited delirium.Fact|date=November 2007

Critics of taser use, however, argue that "excited delirium" is not a valid medical term and is not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.Fact|date=April 2008 Tasers are often used as an alternative to striking the suspect with a baton or shooting them with firearms, both of which have a much higher chance of serious injury and death than the taser, [http://www.physorg.com/news111080086.html The study by William Bozeman of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center] ] even using the highest estimates of possible taser-related deaths. The term "less-lethal" is being used more frequently when referring to weapons such as tasers because many experts feel that no device meant to subdue a person can be completely safe. The less-lethal category also includes devices such as pepper spray, tear gas, and batons. There has been one case report in the medical literature of a person suffering spinal fractures after being shocked by a taser. [ [http://www.acep.org/Content.aspx?id=29862 Police Officer Suffers Spine Fractures at Taser Demonstration] September 4, 2007] The U.N. has declared: "TASER electronic stun guns are a form of torture that can kill." [ [http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,22814674-5001028,00.html?from=public_rss Tasers a form of torture, says UN | The Daily Telegraph ] ]

Fatalities

While their intended purpose is to circumvent the use of lethal force such as guns, the actual deployment of Tasers by police in the years since Tasers came into widespread use is claimed to have resulted in more than 180 deaths as of 2006.Parker Waichman Alonso LLP, Associated Press, Jun 14, 2006. [http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/read/11882 Justice Department to review TASER deaths.] Retrieved December 3, 2007.] It is still unclear whether the Taser was directly responsible for the cause of death, but several legislators in the U.S. have filed bills clamping down on them and requesting more studies on their effects. [KHAMPHA BOUAPHANH, AP file, [http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/4464516.html Houston & Texas News.] Retrieved 12-03-2007.] Despite the growing controversy, a study funded by the U.S. Justice Department asserted that majority of people tasered from July 2005 to June 2007 suffered no injury. A study led by William Bozeman, of the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, of nearly 1,000 persons subjected to Taser use, concluded that 99.7% of the subjects had either minor injuries, such as scrapes and bruises, or none at all; while three persons suffered injuries severe enough to need hospital admission, and two other subjects died. Their autopsy reports indicated neither death was related to the use of a Taser. [http://www.physorg.com/news111080086.html The study by William Bozeman of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center] ] [ [http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/84955.php "Study Suggests Taser Use By US Police Is Safe"] , Catharine Paddock, "Medical News Today", October 9, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2008.]

The head of the U.S. southern regional office of Amnesty International, Jared Feuer, reported that 277 people in the United States have died after being shocked by a Taser between June 2001 and October 2007, which has already been documented. He also noted that about 80% of those, on whom a Taser was used by U.S. police, were unarmed. "Tasers interfere with a basic equation, which is that force must always be proportional to the threat," Feuer said. "They are being used in a situation where a firearm or even a baton would never be justified."William Dunham, Reuters, October 8, 2006. [http://www.reuters.com/article/companyNewsAndPR/idUSN0523646320071008] retrieved December 7, 2007. ] A spokesperson for Taser International asserted that if a person dies from a "tasering" it is instantaneous and not days later.Mark W. Kroll, [http://www.taser.com/research/Science/Pages/TASERBlameForInjuries.aspx Why do certain anti-police groups blame TASER for injuries or death] , last updated November 6, 2007. Retrieved December 8, 2007.] Taser International announced that it is "transmitting over 60 legal demand letters requiring correction of... false and misleading headlines." Prime Newswire issued November 16, 2007 [http://money.cnn.com/news/newsfeeds/articles/primenewswire/131648.htm] ]

Notable Taser deaths

In October and November 2007, four individuals died after being tasered in Canada, leading to calls for review of its use. The highest-profile of these cases was that of Robert Dziekański, a non-English speaking man from Poland who died in less than two minutes after being tasered by Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) at the Vancouver International Airport, October 14, 2007. [ [http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2007/10/18/bc-taser.html Witness blames RCMP, Vancouver airport for death of Tasered man ] ] [ [http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20071025/airport_death_071025 CTV.ca | New details emerge in Vancouver airport death ] ] The tasering was captured on home video and was broadcast nationally. [ [http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2007/11/14/bc-taservideo.html Taser video shows RCMP shocked immigrant within 25 seconds of their arrival ] ] This was followed by three further death-after-Tasering incidents in Montreal, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Chilliwack, British Columbia, leading Amnesty International to demand Taser use end in Canada, as it had records of 16 other such deaths in the country. [ [http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5iQp9AiPFhnRBQzgeSh2Yn4ZNvJBQ AFP: Fourth Taser gun death in Canada: police ] ] On November 18, 2007, a 20-year-old man in Frederick, Maryland fell unconscious and died also right after being tasered. [ [http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/11/18/taser.death/ Man dies after police jolt him with stun gun - CNN.com ] ]

On December 12, 2007, in response to the death of Robert Dziekański, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day requested that the federal Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP (CPC) prepare recommendations for immediate implementation. The CPC report recommended to "immediately restrict the use of the conducted energy weapon (CEW)" by reclassifying it as an "impact weapon." [cite news | title = RCMP watchdog releases report on Taser use | url = http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20071212/taser_report/20071212?hub=TopStories | publisher = CTV News | date= December 12, 2007 | accessdate = 2007-12-12] The commission released its report on 18 June 2008; recommendations include restricting use to experienced officers (5 years or more), providing medical attention to those who have been zapped, improving previous documentation of specific deployment of the weapon, among other things. [ [http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2008/06/18/taser-report.html Rookie Mounties should be barred from using Tasers: watchdog] , "CBC News", June 18, 2008] [ [http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2008/06/11/taser-rcmp.html RCMP fire Tasers multiple times despite health hazards: probe] , "CBC News", June 11, 2008]

A 2004 CBS News report described 70 deaths believed to be caused by the Taser, including 10 in August 2004 alone. [ [http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/10/12/earlyshow/main648859.shtml TASER Danger?, 70 Deaths After Use Of Stun Gun Lead To Questions Over Its Safety - CBS News ] ] At that time Amnesty International has reported this number at 150 since June 2001. [ [http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/11/18/taser.death/ Man dies after police jolt him with stun gun - CNN.com ] ]

Summit County, Ohio Medical Examiner Lisa J. Kohler cited Taser use as a cause of death in three cases, Mark D. McCullaugh, Dennis S. Hyde, and Richard Holcomb. Taser International sued, and on May 2, 2008, visiting judge Ted Schneiderman ordered the Medical Examiner to remove all references to "Taser" in the reports and change the cause of death in McCullaugh's case from "Homicide" to "Undetermined." Deputy Sheriff Stephen Krendick remains on trial for McCullaugh's death. [ [http://www.ohio.com/news/18542084.html Autopsy findings must be changed, judge rules. Akron Beacon Journal] ]

On Sunday 18th November 2007 in Jacksonville, Florida, Christian Allen, 21, was pulled over by police because his car radio was too loud. After a struggle he and a passenger escaped on foot, an officer gave chase, caught Allen and tasered him at least three times. Allen died later in custody. [ [http://www.news4jax.com/news/14635422/detail.html Officer Uses Taser During Struggle; Man Dies] ]

In April 2006 a 56 year old, wheelchair-bound woman, Emily Marie Delafield died after being shocked at least 10 times. The death was ruled justified homicide. [ [http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/021307/met_7960731.shtml State rules Taser death homicide] ]

On January 12, 2008, Baron Pikes died after being shocked nine times with a Taser. His death was ruled a homicide by the medical examiner. [ [http://www.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/07/22/taser.death/index.html Ex-cop may be charged in case of man Tasered to death] ]

In June 2008, a federal jury ordered Taser International to pay the family of Robert Heston, Jr., $6 million in punitive and compensatory damages for the 2005 death of the man who died a day after being shocked repeatedly by officers using Tasers. According to a press report, the jury "found that Arizona-based stun-gun manufacturer Taser International should have more effectively warned police that Taser shocks were potentially dangerous." [ [http://www.montereyherald.com/crime/ci_9511484 "Taser held responsible in Salinas death"] , "The (Monterey County) Herald", June 7, 2008]

On September 24, 2008 Iman Morales was tasered and died after falling 10 feet to the ground. [ [http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/25/nyregion/25taserletter.html Statement from the New York City Police Department] New York Times, September 2008.]

Studies

A study by the Potomac Institute concluded; "Based on the available evidence, and on accepted criteria for defining product risk vs. efficacy, we believe that when stun technology is appropriately applied, it is relatively safe and clearly effective. The only known field data that are available suggest that the odds are, at worst, one in one thousand that a stun device would contribute to (and this does not imply “cause”) death. This figure is likely not different than the odds of death when stun devices are not used, but when other multiple force measures are. A more defensible figure is one in one hundred thousand." [ [http://www.potomacinstitute.org/research/Stun%20Devices%20Report_FINAL.pdf Microsoft Word - Stun Devices Report_FINAL.doc ] ]

An investigation by the Canadian Press and Canadian Broadcasting Corporation found that one-third of those shot by a Taser by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police received injuries that required medical attention as a result. The news agencies used Freedom of Information requests to obtain the Taser-use forms filled out by RCMP officers from 2002 to 2007. [http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2008/06/17/taser-injuries.html One-third of people shot by Taser need medical attention: probe] , "CBC News", June 17, 2008]

According to a study presented at the Heart Rhythm Society's 2007 Scientific Sessions, Tasers may present risks to subjects with implanted pacemakers. [ [http://www.hrsonline.org/News/Media/press-releases/press-release-taser-danger.cfm Study Shows Tasers Pose Potential Risks for Pacemaker Patients: Weapons May Cause Arrhythmias in Patients With Cardiac Devices] May 11, 2007] However, a study conducted by the Cleveland Clinic in 2007 on a single animal determined that, a standard five-second TASER X26 application "does not affect the short-term functional integrity of implantable pacemakers and defibrillators... The long-term effects were not assessed."cite journal |author=Lakkireddy D, Khasnis A, Antenacci J, "et al" |title=Do electrical stun guns (TASER-X26) affect the functional integrity of implantable pacemakers and defibrillators? |journal=Europace |volume=9 |issue=7 |pages=551–6 |year=2007 |pmid=17491105 |doi=10.1093/europace/eum058 |url=http://europace.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/9/7/551?ijkey=v5zONNAwEzrMZP5&keytype=ref]

A Chicago study suggests that use of the Taser can interfere with heart function. A team of scientists and doctors at the Cook County hospital trauma center stunned 6 pigs with two 40-second Taser discharges across the chest. Every animal was left with heart rhythm problems and two of the subjects died of cardiac arrest. One of the subjects died three minutes after being shot indicating, according to researcher Bob Walker, that "after the Taser shock ends, there can still be effects that can be evoked and you can still see cardiac effects." [ [http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2008/01/30/taser-study.html "Chicago study calls Taser's safety claims into question"] , "CBC News", January 30, 2008] cite journal |author=Dennis AJ, Valentino DJ, Walter RJ, "et al" |title=Acute effects of TASER X26 discharges in a swine model |journal=J Trauma |volume=63 |issue=3 |pages=581–90 |year=2007 |pmid=18073604 |doi=10.1097/TA.0b013e3180683c16]

In 2006, the US National Institute of Justice began a two-year study into taser-related deaths in custody. [ [http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-06-13-stun-guns_x.htm Justice Department looks into deaths of people subdued by stun guns] July 13, 2006]

San Francisco cardiologist and electrophysiologist Dr. Zian Tseng told the Braidwood Inquiry that a healthy individual could die from a Taser discharge, depending on electrode placement on the chest and pulse timing. He said that the risk of serious injury or death is increased by the number of activations, adrenaline or drugs in the bloodstream, and a susceptible medical history. After Tseng began researching Tasers three years ago , Taser International contacted him, asking him to reconsider his media statements and offering funding. [ [http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2008/05/12/taser-inquiry.html?ref=rss "Stun guns not risk free, inquiry told"] , "CBC News", May 12, 2008]

A February 2005 memorandum from the Aberdeen Proving Ground, a United States Army weapons test site, discouraged shocking soldiers with Tasers in training, contrary to Taser International's recommendations. The Army's occupational health sciences director affirmed the Taser's effectiveness, but warned that "Seizures and ventricular fibrillation can be induced by the electric current." and that "the practice of using these weapons on U.S. Army military and civilian forces in training is not recommended, given the potential risks." [http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/read/11338 "Study raises concerns over Tasers' safety"] , "Arizona Republic", February 13, 2006]

A study conducted by electrical engineer James Ruggieri and published January 2006 in the "Journal of the National Academy of Forensic Engineers" measured a Taser's output as 39 times more powerful than specified. The study concluded that the discharge is sufficient to trigger ventricular fibrillation, a 50 percent risk according to electric safety standards. Ruggieri said that electricity breaks down skin tissue, decreasing its resistance and increasing current through the body.

Use on police

Taser International recommends that users be tased during training.Fact|date=July 2008

On 5 July 2005 Michael Todd, then Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, England, let himself be shot in the back with a Taser, to demonstrate his confidence that tasers can be used safely. This was captured on video, and the video was released to the BBC on 17 May 2007. He was wearing a shirt and no jacket. When tased, he fell forward onto his chest on the ground, and (he said afterwards) the shock made him helpless; but, soon after, he recovered completely. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/4650645.stm Chief constable hit by Taser gun] 5 July, 2005] [ [http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/s/1007/1007128_top_cop_tastes_a_taser.html Top cop tastes a Taser] May 17, 2007] [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/player/nol/newsid_6660000/newsid_6668100/6668177.stm?bw=nb&mp=wm BBC News Player - Police chief shot with taser] May 18, 2007]

Although tests on police and military volunteers have shown Tasers to function appropriately on a healthy, calm individual in a relaxed and controlled environment, the real-life target of a Taser is, if not mentally or physically unsound, in a state of high stress and in the midst of a confrontation.Fact|date=April 2008 According to the UK’s Defence Scientific Advisory Council’s subcommittee on the Medical Implications of Less-lethal Weapons (DoMILL), "The possibility that other factors such as illicit drug intoxication, alcohol abuse, pre-existing heart disease, and cardioactive therapeutic drugs may modify the threshold for generation of cardiac arrhythmias cannot be excluded.” In addition, Taser experiments “do not take into account real life use of Tasers by law enforcement agencies, such as repeated or prolonged shocks and the use of restraints". [http://web.amnesty.org/library/pdf/AMR510302006ENGLISH/$File/AMR5103006.pdf Amnesty International’s continuing concerns about Taser use (in the USA)] 2006]

Police officers in at least five US states have filed lawsuits against Taser International claiming they suffered serious injuries after being shocked with the device during training classes.

Advantages and disadvantages

Supporters say that electroshock guns are a safer alternative to devices such as firearms. Taser International uses the term "non-lethal" as defined by the United States Department of Defense - which does not mean the weapon cannot cause death, but that it is not intended to be fatal. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/crime/article/0,2763,1583867,00.html Police stun-gun may be lethal, firm admits] October 3, 2005] Non-lethal weapons are defined as "weapons that are explicitly designed and primarily employed so as to incapacitate personnel or material, while minimizing fatalities, permanent injury to personnel, and undesired damage to property and the environment."

Supporters say that electroshock weapons and tasers are more effective than other means including pepper-spray (an eye/breathing irritant), batons or other conventional ways of inflicting pain, even hand guns, at bringing a subject down to the ground with a minimum physical exertion. [Taser International, Inc., homepage. [http://www.taser.com/] ]

Critics, however, charge that police officers who are risk-averse resort to tasers in situations where previously they would have used more conventional, less "extreme" techniques, such as trying to reason with a cornered suspect. [ [http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/4464516.html The Taser Effect: Two years after HPD armed itself with the stun guns, questions linger over how and how often the weapon is being used] Jan 14, 2007]

Deaths and injuries

Between June 2001 and June 2007, there were at least 245 cases of deaths of subjects soon after having been shocked using Tasers. [ [http://www.hometownglenburnie.com/vault/cgi-bin/gazette/view/2007G/05/23-25.HTM County police getting Tasers] May 23, 2007] Of these cases:
*In 7 cases, medical examiners said Tasers were a cause or a contributing factor or could not be ruled out as a cause of death.
*In 16 cases coroners and other officials stated that a Taser was a secondary or contributory factor of death.
*In dozens of cases, coroners cited excited delirium as cause of death. Excited delirium has been questioned as a medical diagnosis. [ [http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=7608386 Death by Excited Delirium: Diagnosis or Coverup?] February 26, 2007]
*Several deaths occurred as a result of injuries sustained in struggles. In a few of these cases head injury due to falling after being shocked contributed to later death. Some police departments, like that of Clearwater, Florida, have tried to eradicate such incidents by prohibiting taser use when the suspect is in danger of falling. [ [http://tampabay.injuryboard.com/defective-products/another-taser-death-in-clearwater.php Another Taser Death - In Clearwater] April 07, 2006]

In 2005, a medical examiner ruled for the first time that a Taser was the primary factor in a death. [ [http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/0730taser30.html Taser shocks ruled cause of death] , by Robert Anglen, "The Arizona Republic", July 30, 2005. Accessed November 25, 2007.]

Several incidents have received publicity:
* July 2005, UK. Police Tasered a man in hypoglycemic shock, believing that he was a potential security threat. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/west_yorkshire/7096456.stm Terror police 'shot' man in coma] , BBC News, 15 November 2007]
* April 2006, USA. A 56 year old, wheelchair bound woman dies after ten Taser shocks, death ruled homicide. [ [http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/021307/met_7960731.shtml State rules Taser death homicide] ]
* October 2006, USA. A 17 year old boy died after being repeatedly Tasered by police. [ [http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=17399364&BRD=1719&PAG=461&dept_id=25271&rfi=6 Youth, 17, dies after police Taser incident ] Oct. 31, 2006]
* November 2006, USA. UCLA Taser incident
* September 2007, USA. University of Florida Taser incident
* October 2007, Canada. Robert Dziekański Taser incident
* November 2007, Canada. Howard Hyde incident. [ [http://www.cbc.ca/canada/nova-scotia/story/2007/11/22/taser-death.html N.S. orders Taser review after inmate's death] ]
* November 2007, USA. Christian Allen incident. [ [http://www.news4jax.com/news/14635422/detail.html Officer Uses Taser During Struggle; Man Dies] ]
* December 2007, Canada. Quilem Registre Taser incident
* April 24, 2008, USA. Kevin Piskura died after being stunned by a X-26 Taser for 10 seconds while interfering with a friend's arrest by Police in Oxford, Ohio. He was hospitalized after the confrontation and died five days later. Video and audio of the event was recorded by the X-26's mounted camera. [ [http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-police_taser_death_webapr25,0,7015156.story Chicago man dies after Taser hit by Ohio police - Employees, Chicago - chicagotribune.com ] ]
* July 22, 2008, Winnipeg, Manitoba, a 17 year old aboriginal teen died after being tasered during a standoff. The victim was carrying a knife during the incident [ [http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20080722/taser_incident_080723/20080722/ Man dies after being Tasered] , CTV.ca, 2008-07-22]
* September 24, 2008, USA. Iman Morales Taser incident

Legal issues and court cases

According to Taser International, tasers are intended “to incapacitate dangerous, combative, or high-risk subjects who pose a risk to law enforcement officers, innocent citizens, or themselves”. [ [http://www.taser.com/company/Pages/AboutTASER.aspx About TASER] ]

Tasers are illegal or subject to legal restrictions on their availability and use in many jurisdictions.

Police officers in at least five US states have filed lawsuits against Taser International claiming they suffered serious injuries after being shocked with the device during training classes. cite web|title=Arizona Sheriff Announces Test of Alternative to Taser Stun Gun| author= Steven DiJoseph| date= November 21, 2005| format= reprint| url=http://orlando.injuryboard.com/defective-products/an-alternative-to-the-defective-and-deadly-taser.php ]

The UN Committee Against Torture (CAT), an agency charged with overseeing the application of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, arrived at the conclusion on Friday, November 23, 2007, that the use of the electric pulse Taser gun constitutes a "form of torture" and "can even provoke death."

Summit County, Ohio Medical Examiner Lisa J. Kohler cited Taser use as a cause of death in three cases, Mark D. McCullaugh, Dennis S. Hyde, and Richard Holcomb. Taser International sued, and on May 2, 2008, visiting judge Ted Schneiderman ordered the Medical Examiner to remove all references to "Taser" in the reports and change the cause of death in McCullaugh's case from "Homicide" to "Undetermined." Deputy Sheriff Stephen Krendick remains on trial for McCullaugh's murder. [ [http://www.ohio.com/news/18542084.html Autopsy findings must be changed, judge rules. Akron Beacon Journal] ]

On June 9, 2008 Taser International lost its first Product-Liability Suit. [ [http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&refer=us&sid=aYJitFRQLpZk Taser Loses 1st Product-Liability Suit; Jury Awards $6 Million] ]

Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP - 18 June 2008 report

The Commissioner for Public Complaints made several recommendations regarding the use of tasers including: [http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2008/06/18/taser-report.htmlRookie Mounties should be barred from using Tasers: watchdog] [http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2008/06/17/taser-injuries.htmlOne-third of people shot by Taser need medical attention: probe] [http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2008/06/11/taser-rcmp.htmlRCMP fire Tasers multiple times despite health hazards: probe]
*RCMP members with less than five years of operational experience should be prohibited from using Taser stun guns.
*Individuals who are Tasered about whom police have no knowledge of underlying medical conditions receive prompt medical attention, thereby possibly saving their lives.

Compliance Strategy Group Independent Review of the RCMP - June, 2008

Compliance Strategy Group [http://www.compliancestrategygroup.com/] (John Kiedrowski, Principal Consultant, Michael Petrunik and Ronald-Frans Melchers, Associate Consultants) conducted An Independent Review of the Adoption and Use of Conducted Energy Weapons by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police [ http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/ccaps/cew/kiedrowski_report_e.htm] that was completed in June 2008, but only released under access to information and privacy around September 12, 2008. The report is available from the RCMP under access to information, but is censored (e.g., no recommendations). The report as released by the RCMP may be found on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation website www.cbc.ca. The Report reviews how the RCMP made the decisions to introduce the conducted energy weapons, training, policies and procedures, and accountability. The report is approximately 150 pages and provides an excellent analysis on how a police force adopted the Taser. The authors of the report argued that the police did not due their due diligences, is concerned abut training and the issues of accountability. The report also pointed out that the police in Canada have misclassified the taser as a prohibited weapon whereas under the criminal code it is referred to as a prohibited firearm, and refers to excited delirium as "folk knowledge".

Fire risk

Tasers come with express instructions not to use them where flammable liquids or fumes may be present, such as filling stations or by police raiding methamphetamine labs, as tasers, like other electric devices, have been found to ignite flammable materials.

An evaluative study carried out by the British Home Office investigated the potential for tasers to ignite CS gas. Seven trials were conducted, in which CS gas canisters containing methyl isobutyl ketone (a solvent used in all CS sprays utilized by the United Kingdom police) were sprayed over mannequins wearing street clothing. The tasers were then fired at the mannequins. In two of the seven trials, "the flames produced were severe and engulfed the top half of the mannequin, including the head". This poses a particular problem for law enforcement, as some police departments approve the use of CS before the use of a taser. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4316213,00.html Safety flaw in police's new gun] December 9, 2001]

References

ee also

*UCLA Taser incident
*University of Florida Taser incident
*Robert Dziekański Taser incident
*The Braidwood inquiry

External links

* [http://www.amnesty.org/en/report/info/AMR51/139/2004 Amnesty International 2004 report] USA: Excessive and lethal force? Amnesty International's concerns about deaths and ill-treatment involving police use of tasers
* [http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?id=ENGAMR510302006 Amnesty International 2006 report] USA: Amnesty International's continuing concerns about taser use
* [http://www.amnesty.org/en/report/info/AMR20/002/2007 Amnesty International 2006 report] Canada: Inappropriate and excessive use of tasers
* [http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?id=engamr511512007 Amnesty International Statement to the U.S. Justice Department inquiry into deaths in custody] 27 Sept 2007


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