While certainly painful, many might not realize Tasers can also be deadly. In fact, there have been hundreds of deaths caused by Tasers and at least 50 wrongful death lawsuits filed against the company, Taser International, since the electroshock product first went on the market. Some speculate these deaths and the potential for liability is the reason behind why five police departments recently took the Taser guns off their list of approved equipment.
According to Amnesty International, between 2001 and 2012 there were more than 500 people who died during their arrest or later in jail after being shocked with Taser technology. After realizing this equipment may be more dangerous than once thought, Amnesty International starting warning law enforcement agencies about the risk and urged departments to at the very least use the Taser gun less frequently.
A Taser is a conducted electrical weapon that shoots 50,000 volts into a person. These volts completely take over the central nervous system, which leads to a person losing control of their muscles. For police, this makes it a lot easier to arrest a person.
In a review of 98 Taser deaths, according to Amnesty International, in 90 of these cases the person had been unarmed and shocked more than once with a Taser.
This of course brings up concerns regarding excessive force among police. And, given the fact Taser International now has a disclaimer about the risk of serious injury or death, police departments across the country may be concerned about facing more and more lawsuits.
However, it should be noted that even though there is a disclaimer, there have been claims also related to the product not being properly tested, which could lead to more product liabilitylawsuits for the company.
Looking to the future though, it will be interesting to see if more police departments decide to do away with their use of the Taser. For while there is certainly evidence of the damage a Taser can do, there are others who still tout the benefits of using a Taser and the number of police lives that have been saved due to Tasers.
Source: MintPress News, “Five Texas Police Departments Ban Tasers,” Katie Rucke, Sept. 26, 2013