How Racism Comes Into Play When Police Use Stun Guns

Police officers in Connecticut used or threatened to use stun guns in 641 incidents last year. The racial makeup of the victims is equally disturbing.

Jose Angel Maldonado was just 22 when he died in April 2014 after being hit by a police stun gun in an East Hartford, Connecticut, lockup.

He was apparently among 18 unarmed victims in the past decade who died at the hands of Connecticut police during confrontations involving either guns or stun guns, according to the Hartford Courant. More than 77 percent of those fatalities were either black or Hispanic.

Following Maldonado’s death, Connecticut passed a law making it the first state in the country requiring police to track their use of stun guns. The legislation didn’t limit the usage of Tasers, but was introduced to collect data.

And now, nearly one year after the law came into effect, results pertaining to the racial makeup of the victims of police use-of-force have come out.

Citing raw data obtained from researchers at Central Connecticut State University, the Associated Press reported of the 641 overall incidents involving stun guns last year, nearly 30 percent of the suspects involved were black and 21 percent were Hispanic.

And when it came to actually firing stun guns, “officers fired them 60 percent of the time in cases involving whites, 80 percent of the time in cases involving blacks and 69 percent of the time in cases involving Hispanics.”

It was only when cops threatened to use stun guns that the number of white people far exceeded other races — 61 percent white, 19 percent black and 20 percent Hispanic.

Although stun guns are considered non-lethal alternatives to guns, Amnesty International stated in 2012 at least 500 people in the United States have died since 2001 after being Tased either during their arrest or while in jail.

Although the final report has not yet been submitted, preliminary findings highlighting racial disparities is understandably a point of concern for both authorities and the masses in Connecticut — especially at a time when the entire country, and not just one state, is reeling from incidents of police brutality and racial injustice.

Banner / Thumbnail : Reuters

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