Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Despite controversy concerning their safety, use of electrical stun guns (Tasers) by law enforcement agencies is increasing.

Tasering Taxpayers to Death in Salem

 FOX-12 showed video this week of a Salem Police officer confronting a skateboarder at the Salem Transit Mall, then shooting him with a taser in a way that seems extremely unnecessary. Police are being tight lipped about it, they admit an internal investigation was launched, so the police are policing the police....
FOX-12's Jamie Wilson says, "Salem officials tell us they can't talk about that because the details are part of their internal affairs investigation." It happened on 18 April 2014.

Taser use by officer on skateboarder under investigation


KPTV - FOX 12

 2009 Mar 15;103(6):877-80. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2008.11.046. Epub 2009 Jan 21.

Relation of Taser (electrical stun gun) deployment to increase in in-custody sudden deaths.

Abstract

Despite controversy concerning their safety, use of electrical stun guns (Tasers) by law enforcement agencies is increasing. We examined the effect of Taser deployment on rates of (1) in-custody sudden deaths in the absence of lethal force, (2) lethal force (firearm) deaths, and (3) officer injuries (OIs) requiring emergency room visits. Under the Public Records Act and the Freedom of Information Act, 126 police and sheriff departments from California cities were mailed surveys requesting rates of each of the outcomes of interest for each of the 5 years preceding Taser deployment through the 5 years after deployment. To control for population size and crime rates, we used total annual arrests per city as reported to the Department of Justice. Fifty cities provided predeployment and postdeployment data on in-custody sudden death, 21 cities reported firearm deaths, and 4 cities reported OIs. The rate of in-custody sudden death increased 6.4-fold (95% confidence interval 3.2-12.8, p = 0.006) and the rate of firearm death increased 2.3-fold (95% confidence interval 1.3-4.0, p = 0.003) in the in the first full year after Taser deployment compared with the average rate in the 5 years before deployment. In years 2 to 5 after deployment, rates of the 2 events decreased to predeployment levels. We observed no significant change in the rate of serious OIs after Taser deployment. In conclusion, although considered by some a safer alternative to firearms, Taser deployment was associated with a substantial increase in in-custody sudden deaths in the early deployment period, with no decrease in firearm deaths or serious OIs.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19268749

 2006 Oct-Dec;10(4):447-50.

Taser use in restraint-related deaths.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The Taser is an electric weapon capable of releasing significant amounts of electricity in rapid pulses, causing uncontrollable muscle contraction. Use of this weapon has dramatically increased over the past decade, and it is now commonly used by law enforcement officers nationwide. Emergency medical services providers are, likewise, seeing more patients who have recently been subjected to application of a Taser. We examined the autopsy reports of patients who died after application of a Taser in an attempt to identify high-risk interactions.

METHODS:

This is a case series of Taser-related deaths. Fatalities occurring over four years beginning in January 2001 were identified through an Internet search, and autopsy reports were requested. Reports were analyzed for patient demographics, preexisting cardiac disease, toxicology, evidence of excited delirium, restraint techniques used, and listed cause of death.

RESULTS:

Of 75 cases identified, 37 (49.3%) had autopsy reports available for review. All cases involved men, with ages ranging from 18 to 50 years. Cardiovascular disease was found in 54.1%. Illegal substance use was found on toxicology screening for 78.4%; within that group, 86.2% were found to have been using stimulants. A diagnosis of excited delirium was given for 75.7% of the cases. Use of a Taser was considered a potential or contributory cause of death in 27%.

CONCLUSIONS:

This is the largest review of Taser-related fatalities reported in the medical literature. The findings are consistent with prior studies, suggesting a high frequency of restraint-related and excited delirium-related fatalities.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16997772



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