Even the OEM [Taser International] has ever-so-slowly changed their tune and they now use the near-meaningless phrase "less than lethal". They've also added more and more direct health risks to their warnings. It's also a cold hard fact that some subjects have been in perfect health one moment and dead the next, and coroners have attributed some deaths to the taser's effects. Dr. Zipes, one of the world's leading experts in the field, has concluded that the OEM has systematically understated the risks. Canada's Braidwood Inquiry concluded that tasers can cause and contribute to death, and the OEM's appeal was tossed out of court.
Of course the taser death rate is low by any standard, but that misses the point.
The point is that false claims that tasers are inherently and always "non-lethal" is dangerously misleading and such false claims lead directly to the overuse of tasers in non-violent encounters (many examples). The result is often a net increase in the level of violence introduced into non-violent situations, and subjects being killed where it should not have happened. Not even touching on the entire torture question... Many hundreds of directly related lawsuits are costing US cities millions and millions and millions of dollars.
It's obvious that the *only* correct approach is to treat these weapons as "potentially lethal" (banish the misleading and dangerous concept of them being "non-lethal") and invoke strict policy that only allows their use immediately below lethal force (a huge narrowing of their too frequent misuse as a compliance [torture] tool). Such a better-informed approach eliminates virtually all of the misapplications while sticking closer to the advantage that tasers are obviously less lethal than gun fire.
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Friday, November 25, 2011
Tasers are NOT "non-lethal"...
...and why the false claim is so dangerous.