The Shocking Toll of Taser Use in Police Incidents

Reuters recently conducted a detailed study of over 1000 incidents involving the use of a stun gun that ended in the death of the person stunned. Of those incidents, only a little over 150 actually cite Tasers as the cause or a contributor to death.

Since Tasers became a staple in police departments in the early 2000’s, they have been considered the best option for subduing potentially aggressive attackers. Unfortunately, the majority of people who die from Taser attacks are suffering from a mental health breakdown or ongoing mental illness.

More recent studies show that Tasers should not be used on people suffering from known health issues, mental illnesses or drug abuse. Taser International Inc. stands by their claim that Tasers, when used properly, are not to blame for the deaths and that Tasers continue to be a far better alternative than firearms.

A small fraction of police departments have started requiring Crisis Intervention Training (CIT), which involves strategies for de-escalating possibly dangerous situations when interacting with people in mental crises. One department that has adopted CIT was able to cut their use of Tasers by more than half over 10 years.

The probability of dying from a Taser shock is largely incalculable, due to a lack of data, differing secondary causes of death and a number of complexities. No government agency currently tracks deaths caused by Tasers in police incidents.

Read the article.