Comment left on the Eastern Courier, New Zealand. [LINK]
The fundamental issue with tasers is that they can, occassionally and randomly, cause death. The manufacturer has, until recently, strenuously denied that a taser could ever cause death. But within the past two weeks, they have issued new taser targeting guidelines that advise "avoiding the chest". As well as advising against excessive durations.
In the course of investigating, for the past two years, the issue of "taser-associated" deaths, I have uncovered many examples of Taser International muddling the issue, confusing decision makers, promoting "excited delirium" as an explanation for many of the 450+ deaths, and redacting critical technical information from technical documentation. My blog, that documents my findings and observations, has more than 1300 posts on this complex and sometimes subtle issue.
Provided that the police clearly understand that use of tasers carries risks, including the risk of death, then they can, at the very least, adapt their training and policies to minimize the harm.
But if the police are under the spell of the stungun salesmen, and fall for the false claims of essentially-perfect safety with respect to inherent internal risk factors such as cardiac effects, then people that did nothing to deserve lethal force will eventually be killed.
Some will claim that only raving loons would accept the view that tasers can kill. To refute that specious garbage, here is a brief list of those that have accepted that tasers can kill: US AMA, Canadian RCMP, UN, Amnesty International, Canadian Braidwood Inquiry, Wake Forest University's Dr. Bozeman, many distinguished experts, and more.
And now Taser International is subtly back-pedalling on the issue with their latest advice.
The Braidwood Inquiry has cost about $3.7M. New Zealand could skip learning this lesson the hard way and take advantage of the lessons learned in Canada.
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