Sunday, November 22, 2009

The "Non-Lethality" Lie: Tasers Have Killed Hundreds Since 2001

H/T to Stephen Soldz, who has been following news on taser abuse for some time, including this recent report on police tasering a 10-year-old child, with the child's mother's consent no less.

In a posting last Saturday, Soldz highlighted an oped in the Tennessean by Jared Feuer, Southern regional director for Amnesty International USA.
Since 2001, about 400 people have died — 39 this year — after being Tasered by law enforcement personnel in the U.S. Amnesty International believes it is time to reconsider the use of Tasers. We believe this is even more essential as Taser International has issued new recommendations calling on law enforcement to avoid shocking people in the chest. This is the first time Taser has admitted a potentially serious health risk with the devices, and we believe it underscores our call for a full evaluation of their use....

The reasons for these deaths are an open question; what we do know is that a Taser gun exposes the victim to a 50,000-volt shock that continues until the officer releases his or her finger or the battery depletes. Such a shock overrides the body’s central nervous system, causing uncontrollable contraction of muscles and instant collapse. In a manufacturer’s study, it was found that additional shocks are required one-third of the time.

Because law enforcement officers do not know the medical history or condition of those being Tasered, they are not trained, required or able to determine the potential impact of the shock. The result appears to have been fatal for hundreds of people. It is for this reason that Amnesty International has urged that Taser use be limited to situations in which officers are faced with an immediate threat of death or serious injury that cannot be contained through less extreme options, if not suspended altogether pending an independent study to determine why people have died after being Tasered.
Tasers should be outlawed. Instead, police forces are turning in greater and greater numbers to this supposed "non-lethal" force alternative. But its non-lethality is a lie, as this story shows.

Of course, the military is interested, too, as this recent story at Wired explains:
A new electroshock weapon being developed by Taser could zap people up to 175 feet away — and keep on applying pain for as long as three minutes in a row. Which is pretty tough to take, since it only takes a second or two of shocks to make most people cry out in agony.

The new 40mm projectile resembles a super-sized version of the shotgun-fired XREP Taser projectile. And like the XREP, it will attach itself to the target and incapacitate him or her with a series of electric jolts....

“This project will likely increase the standoff range by at least a factor of five over already fielded electromuscular devices,” says Wes Burgei, a project engineer at the U.S. military’s Joint Non-lethal Weapons Directorate, which has given Taser $2.5 million to work on the weapon.
Under the auspices of the new Democratic president, Barack Obama, the worst aspects of the U.S. militarist state and expansion of police powers continues unabated from the Bush years.

What's really news is that the so-called progressive world hasn't yet awakened to this political reality. Thanks to Amnesty, ACLU, CCR, PHR and a handful of other human and legal rights agencies for spending the time and effort to fight back. Have you, dear reader, taken time out to donate money to one of these fine agencies?


Kati said...


Kati said...


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