UCLA Student Shocked in Taser-Gun Incident Sues University.
"'I think Tasers are still of unproven safety,' [Mark] Silverstein [Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado] said.
Silverstein wrote in the 2004 letter that the ACLU was aware of almost 30 deaths associated with Tasers in the three previous years. He also stated that 'in at least two-thirds of the recent in-custody deaths associated with electroshock weapons,' the suspect who died was 'extremely agitated, psychotic, [had] ingested large quantities of drugs, or [had] a pre-existing heart condition.'
Silverstein cites a 1992 journal report in which a doctor stated that people in those conditions may be at a 'substantially' increased risk of fatality. The doctor goes on to point out that, 'Persons being Tasered are usually agitated and hyperactive.'"*
"Taser International has now issued a training bulletin warning that repeated blasts of the Taser can 'impair breathing and respiration.'
According to a posting on Taser’s website, for subjects in a state known as excited delirium, repeated or prolonged stuns with the Taser can contribute to 'significant and potentially fatal health risks.'
The three-page bulletin appears to counter instructions in a training manual Taser International issued only last year. It also departs from Taser’s previous dismissals of safety concerns raised by groups such as Amnesty International, which has documented 129 U.S. and Canadian deaths of people stunned by Tasers.
The Houston Police Department (HPD), Taser’s biggest U.S. customer, has formed a review committee of police officials and community leaders, including representatives from the NAACP and League of United Latin American Citizens, to study the use of Tasers in the city of Houston.
The committee started by reviewing the HPD use-of-force policy, training sessions that officers receive, and the first 200 incidents in which Tasers were used in Houston.
Houston will also be involved in a study of Taser use conducted by a national police-research organization according to a report in the Houston Chronicle.
Obviously, a non-lethal weapon becomes a problem when it starts killing people. Many experts and critics of the Taser stun gun believe that time has long since passed.
For example, using a number of sources, The Arizona Republic has now compiled a list of 144 cases in the United States and Canada since 1999 where a death followed the use of a Taser stun gun.
The sources used included autopsy reports, computer searches, police reports, media accounts, and Taser International’s own records. To date, the research indicates that medical examiners have cited the Taser to some extent in 18 deaths. In four cases it was a cause of death, in 10 it was a contributing factor, and in four it could not be ruled out as a cause of death.
This, however, seems to be just the 'tip of the iceberg' when it comes to Taser International’s mounting problems with respect to its approximately 100,000 stun guns now being used by some 7,000 U.S. law-enforcement agencies.
....From the very beginning, many experts questioned the safety of the 50,000 volt 'non-lethal' weapon. A lack of adequate testing and independent medical evidence supporting the company’s bold marketing claims have been cited by such diverse critics as Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, and a consulting electrical engineer as reasons for removing the stun guns from the market until more extensive testing is done especially with respect to how the device affects pregnant women, people on drugs, or those with heart conditions.
Even the International Association of Chiefs of Police have suggested that further testing is needed. The organization advocates using the device only to subdue violent suspects; not to use it on handcuffed persons unless they are 'overly assaultive;' to use it the least number of times; and to seek medical attention for anyone who has been shocked.
In addition, all types of Taser-related lawsuits abound."
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