Over 1000 Deaths Recorded Involving Tasers

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An extensive investigation by Reuters discovers that police using Tasers was a major reason for the mounting toll of deaths and litigation in the United States.

A Reuters special report has brought some disturbing stats to light.

The study compiles the most comprehensive public accounting of fatal police encounters, where the paralyzing stun guns were used.

According to the research, more than 1,000 people in the U.S. died after police fired Tasers at them, the Tasers or stun gun were ruled to be the cause or a contributing factor in 153 of those deaths.

All the deaths occurred since 2000, this was the year, when Tasers began gaining popularity with US police. 

In a nationwide review of legal filings, Reuters found at least 442 wrongful death lawsuits had been filed over fatalities that followed the use of a Taser. In nearly 75 percent of the suits, the use of Taser was one of the alleged factors, other forms of physical forces such as punches, baton strikes and pepper spray also contributed.

The special report reveals many of the deceased were socially vulnerable, which led to many legal battles. 

However, “Axon Enterprise Inc,” the stun gun’s manufacturer, formerly known as “Taser International Inc,” believes the usage of stun guns weren’t the reason. Several courts also held police departments for the usage of Tasers, and not the company itself, in many legal battles.

According to the study, deaths are rare if Tasers are used properly. “Anything that we do that reduces the chance of us having to go to lethal force is useful to us,” said Michael Goldsmith, police chief of Norfolk, Virginia. “It’s just a matter of finding the appropriate place for it.” 

Axon also claims they are the “safest force option” for police.  However, the usage of Tasers is causing communities to lose their trust in police forces. It is also pertinent to note that Tasers may not be lethal, but nor are they foolproof.

Thumbnail/ Banner Image Credits: Reuters, Jonathan Ernst

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