The death toll from the use of tasers by police officers in the United States has reached 500, prompting Amnesty International to call on the government to put strict regulations to avoid such tragedies in the future.
Two days after the death of a Georgia man who was shocked with a police Taser — raising the known death toll from tasers to 500 in the United States — Amnesty International today repeated its call for tighter limits on police use of the weapons.
According to data collected by Amnesty International, at least 500 people in the United States have died since 2001 after being shocked with Tasers either during their arrest or while in jail. Amnesty International recorded the largest number of deaths following the use of Tasers in California (92), followed by Florida (65), and Texas (37). The Oklahoma City Police Department led all law enforcement agencies in deaths (7) following by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police, Harris County Sheriff’s (Tx), Phoenix, Az and San Jose, Ca., all with six deaths…“Of the hundreds who have died following police use of Tasers in the United States, dozens and possibly scores of deaths can be traced to unnecessary force being used,” said Susan Lee, Americas program director at Amnesty International. “This is unacceptable, and stricter guidelines for their use are now imperative.”
Strict national guidelines on police use of Tasers and similar stun weapons – also known as Conducted Energy Devices (CEDs) – would effectively replace thousands of individual policies now followed by state and local agencies.
Police forces across the United States currently permit a wide use of the weapons, often in situations that do not warrant such a high level of force.
Law enforcement agencies defend the use of Tasers, saying they save lives and can be used to subdue dangerous or uncooperative suspects. But Amnesty International believes the weapons should only be used as an alternative in situations where police would otherwise consider using firearms.
Unfortunately, that is far too sane and rational to get serious consideration in this country.