At a time when the country is engrossed in a heated debate over police brutality and excessive use of force, a recent investigation by The Baltimore Sun has revealed some disturbing facts about the local police and their misuse of Tasers.
As it turns out, the cops in Maryland show an obvious disregard for the stun gun safety guidelines and often use their Tasers — which most of them consider a non-lethal alternative to guns — in situations where their safety is not even at risk.
The researchers analyzed three years of Taser incidents in the state, and found that nearly 60 percent of the people that police hit with Tasers were described as “noncompliant and nonthreatening” in the official report. Moreover, only 20 percent of stun gun victims had weapon,s while only 2 percent possessed guns.
“Police have over-relied on it,” said John G. Peters Jr., president of the Nevada-based Institute for the Prevention of In-Custody Deaths. “Even the manufacturer has agreed that officers have become codependent on the Taser and they would rather not physically engage people and use the Taser. That’s pretty much true nationally.”
The truth is, Tasers aren’t foolproof at all. In fact, if used improperly, they can cost a person their life. Since 2009, Tasers or similar stun guns have resulted in more than 400 deaths nationwide, 11 of which occurred in Maryland.
In addition to that, The Sun also revealed that 64 percent of those hit by Tasers belonged to the African-American community. Also, in one out of every 10 incidents, police discharged the weapon for longer than 15 seconds, exceeding a duration set by the U.S. Department of Justice and policing experts.
Meanwhile, the data show the problem is the worst in California, which had the highest number of Taser-related fatalities at 60.