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Monday, July 18, 2005

Taser Kills Man

A third person has just died from being tasered since Florida started encouraging police to use tasers, instead of guns. I have counted 3, but this is not a scientific number. It could be more.

I have always thought that tasers were dicey. I would also have to see statistics (taser deaths vs. gun deaths) but it seems to me that you stand a better chance of surviving a bullet in the leg. A taser scrambles your entire body's nervous system, a bullet may do so to some extent (blood loss, shock, etc.) but this electrical disruption of the body seems to be extreme.

SaveOurCivilLiberties.org reported in March that "At least 24 Central Florida students have been zapped by Tasers in the past 18 months as police officers working at public schools turned the controversial stun guns on children as young as 12.

One child in handcuffs, a teen trying to leave school to visit his sister's grave, and even bystanders who got in an officer's way..."

My guess is that it's much easier for a cop to decide to use a taser than if he had to pull his gun. Tasers are seen as an easy way to subdue without leaving a mark. And perhaps they are! They may be a superior weapon to guns. But, Amnesty International issued a lengthy report about them in November, calling for a moratorium. As of late May, they have cited 100 deaths in North America due to the tasers. Would there be the same amount or more if guns were used? I don't know, I'm not in law enforcement and I can't find any reliable statistics.

Amnesty International is not alone. Other groups are opposed as well, such as The Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The Dept. of Justice is beginning a study of their own.

20 comments:

back-to-basics said...

I don't know which is the better choice, guns or tasers. I do know that officers need, have, to be able to stop criminals and control large crowds.

Children leaving schools need to make the proper arangements. Bystander need to move, sometimes they cannot and I understand that. But if a situation breaks out the officers have to keep the majority safe. If you put yourself into a situation that can turn into something ugly, then you take that chance. It is your choice.

Fred said...

I'm all for tasers when the cops are out there facing criminals on a daily basis.

However, do we really need to taser school-aged children? We can't round up three or four people and just tackle the person? (I know it's not that easy, I'm just trying to make a point.)

We need to be smarter about how we use a taser; not institute a ban.

mal said...

Saur, couple of comments. First Tazers do leave marks, albeit, small ones. Second, any one trained to use a gun, shoots to kill, there is no shooting in the arms or legs. If they do, it is an accident. Lastly, rather than "fire" the tool for how it is used, maybe we need to look more closely at the circumstances and the individuals involved where there are problems.

My 2 cents (and change) *G*....thanks for the great posts

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Great! Tazers are one of my favourite areas and i carried out some research on their use in the US last year.

From 2001-05 the US and Canada had 103 deaths from Tazers. In the same period there were roughly 160,000 deaths from the barrel of a gun in the US (not Canada) but obviously not related to law enforcement which usually accounts for 5% of all gun deaths so that's about 8000.

The main problem seems to be police officers using them for in correct reasons when usually restraining or other such action would be taken but to avoid the risk of getting close to the victim the officer is using a Tazer.

Now Tazer have always stated that no one who died being Tazered was there fault.

It's an interesting matter but it seems officers are using Tazers in correctly but in comparison to the harm guns cause the problems with them are minimal.

Jessica said...

Daniel, researching Tazers is an odd hobby. Then again, my friend Randy volunteered to be Tazered at a training demo for the St. Paul (Minnesota) Police Explorer Post. He's a tough guy and said it felt exactly like you'd expect, being painfully shocked.

So until they start asking for volunteers to be shot in the chest, I think it's safe to say Tazers are a better alternative to guns.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Thanks, everyone for your contributions. Mallory made an excellent point, saying that officers usually shoot to kill. And tazers/tasers are probably a better alternative ... but I guess it's just me thinking about how creepy it is to get shot full of electricity. Luckily/hopefully I'll never be in that position.

It's the kids being tazered that is of special concern to me because we're dealing with smaller bodies that the tazer may not be built for.

Saur♥Kraut said...

P.S. I also just wonder if cops may be more prone to use tazers when a gun would not have been used, but they perceive tazers as a less-injurious option. I think that's also why they're quicker to be using them on kids. Now, I'm not saying the kids don't deserve to be tazered ... but if the tazer leads to a child's death, we will then have quite a controversy on our hands. Have you seen any research about this, Daniel?

Jessica said...

Great questions and concerns, Saur.

AP3 said...

I think the tasers are bad news. They're supposed to be non-lethal, and police use them as though they're non-lethal... but clearly they CAN be lethal. Better to know your weapon is lethal, like a gun.

Tabasamu said...

Another interesting post, as usual, Saur!

Tazers are a scary subject. I have never seen one in action, so I don't know what it would look like, but I've read about it.

I do worry that it would tempt the police to use it more easily/frequently than a gun and that could be good OR bad, depending on the circumstances.

I think their increased use on kids shows that they are not viewing tazers as a serious weapon. I don't like that. But if it's a relative who's a drug dealer and is running from the cops, I'd rather have them tazer him than shoot him as he runs. Tazers seem to have less of a chance of dealing death than guns do.

But, you also have to be within a certain range to use a tazer. Guns have a longer range and so the cop is also a little safer using a gun than a tazer.

These are just thoughts I wanted to contribute to the discussion...

-TC

Jamie Dawn said...

I think these cops may be thinking they're playing Star Trek or something. Obviously, they are more dangerous than was thought, and maybe use of them should really be limited. I do feel for cops though. They are often in "dicey" situations and have to make quick decisions. I'd rather see them pull out a taser than a gun.

United We Lay said...

The tasering thing is completely out of hand. It worries me tha it's so easy for cops to decide to use hem even though they're painful and sometimes fatal. And to use them on children is cruel. I'm so disappointed in our justice system for its disregard for the safety of citizens.

actonbell said...

Interesting! It's incredible that they'd use them on children--tazers are to keep cops safe while subdoing criminals, right? Clearly, they're being misused AND used too lightly. Scary.

Underground Logician said...

Has anyone counted how many police officers die annually in the U.S.?

I don't see how we can arbitrarily blame these officers when they get into a violent confrontations caused by an out of control thugs. There are protocols in place for the safety of all concerned. I'm all for the use of tasers if they incapacitate, for there needs to be a means to get control of these violent people.

However, this tendency for people to levy blanket charges against the police seems to be a revival of a 60's attitude to blame the "pigs." Just think, if the anti-gun people get their wish, we'll have to depend on the police even more to protect us. The blame game may hogtie the police to such an extent that soon our protections will be minimal.

P.S.- I'm tired and seem to ramble. Hope you can make sense of what I wrote.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Underground, you are certainly correct about how police need to be protected. And it is always a fine balance. My only concern is that it may be too easy to use the tazers, but there is a lot more stigma attached to the use of guns...therefore the cops are more careful about when/where they draw their weapon.

United We Lay said...

Underground, Using them on violent people is one thing, but using them on children is something else entirely. Police are becoming more corrupt and more bold in their inappropriate actions. One of those actions is tazering people with little provokation.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Underground: about 160 officers die per year in the US but obviously it flutuates wildly and can dip quite low. This year has already seen 76 dead. Thoughts go out to them.

SmileDragon said...

Tasers on children. Amazing what is "acceptable" now days! Why is it ok for a police officer to taser a child and not ok for a mother to reprimand her child in public? Don't get me wrong, I don't agree with abuse, but I do believe that if a child needs to be put in line (apropriately) the parent should be able to without fearing jail time.

lewis_medlock said...

......as an urban firefighter-paramedic, i have seen quite a few "tazings" and no fewer than 20 shootings......all of the shootings are bad.....there is no way a projectile going mach 2 (rifle velocities, i agree....) isnt going to cause big time damage.....
the taser gives a cop a less lethal option.......anyone who says otherwise isnt in the know, hasnt seen one used and is working off of third or forth hand knowledge.
lm

Saur♥Kraut said...

Lewis, Thanks for the contribution. I appreciate it!