Taser Guns Linked to 334 Deaths by Amnesty International

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By: AboutLawsuits | Published: December 17th, 2008

Amnesty International has released a report which links 334 deaths to the use of Taser guns between 2001 and August 2008. Contrary to claims by the manufacturer that the stun guns deliver non-lethal shocks, the Amnesty International indicates that the government should limit use of the weapons to life-threatening situations or stop using them altogether because of their potentially lethal effects and ease of abuse.

Taser International claims that their stun guns are safe and non-lethal. However, Amnesty International challenges these claims, releasing a detailed report about the safety of Taser guns, titled “USA: Less than lethal?”

The Taser gun is designed to incapacitate neuromuscular function by delivering a shock that uses Electro-Muscular Disruption technology. Many law enforcement agencies have deployed the weapons to allow police to incapacitate someone who poses a threat, but there have also been a number of reports of overuse and abuse of the weapons, which could have fatal consequences.

“Tasers are not the ‘non-lethal’ weapons that they are portrayed to be,” said Angela Wright, author of an Amnesty International report that was released on December 16, 2008.

The report found that 90% of the Taser gun deaths examined involved people who were unarmed and did not appear to present a serious threat. In addition, many of the deaths were associated with repeated use of the weapons or prolonged shocks that were longer than the standard five seconds.

Out of the 334 deaths identified nationwide which involved the use of Taser guns, Amnesty International indicates that at least 50 have been directly attributed to the Taser shocks by medical examiners and coroners.

According to Bloomberg News, Taser International is currently a party in at least 40 Taser gun wrongful death lawsuits or personal injury cases, and they have previously been dismissed from over 70 other cases.

The first Taser lawsuit that resulted in a verdict against the manufacturer of the weapon was returned in June 2008 by a California jury, who awarded $6.2 million to the family of a man who died after receiving multiple shocks from a Taser gun.

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There Are 11 Comments So Far • (Add Your Comments)

  1. According to the article, “…90% of the Taser gun deaths examined involved people who were unarmed and did not appear to present a serious threat.” Whose judgement determines a “serious threat?” These incidents must be looked at based upon the law (i.e. Graham v. Conner) and not in the sterile analytical time line allowed by hindsight.

  2. This heavily biased, and inaccurate report hardly deals with facts. This article for a legalistic web provides a classic example in the final paragraph. Dated 16 December, the author notes the $6.2 million judgement against Taser. The should have known and reported that the courts threw out the vast majority of that award some time ago. It would be further worth noting that the individual was held 85 percent responsible for his own death. In 40 states of the U.S. that would have ended the case at that point.

    FTR: The electrical shock from Taser has never killed anyone. Doubt is resolved by knowing that of the hundreds of thousands of volunteers that have be exposed, there have been zero deaths. Statistically impossible if Taser is a significant factor.

  3. [...] report released by Amnesty International last month called on the government to limit police Taser use to life-threatening situations or to stop using them altogether. The organization cited 334 Taser [...]

  4. [...] December 2008, Amnesty International issued a report identifying 334 Taser deaths in the United States between 2001 and August 2008 linked to the use of of the stun guns by police. [...]

  5. [...] year, Amnesty International issued a report that linked the widespread use and overuse of Taser stun guns to 334 deaths between 2001 and August 2008, with at least 50 of the deaths being directly attributed to the Taser [...]

  6. [...] serious threats by using a special Electro-Muscular Disruption technology. However, a number of deaths have been linked to the use of Tasers, and consumer groups have maintained that the weapons are widely misused and [...]

  7. [...] December 2008, Amnsty released a report that found 90% of all Taser gun deaths examined involved people who were unarmed and did not appear [...]

  8. i was tased on february 14, 2006 and have suffered from numerous medical issues since.

  9. I worked in law enforcement for two and a half years, and had a certification to use a Taser. In the state of Texas and most(if not all) states, to use a device, it has to be used on you. I’ll admit it does hurt. However, there, from my own experience, are no lasting effects

  10. I do not believe in taser guns, I was waiting for police assistance after my boyfriend had caused bodily harm on me.
    The ambulance was telling me I had to go to the hospital cause I was bleeding too bad (after putting my fist through a window so that I was not forcefully held inside of my home) I told the ambulance I was not leaving my home with my boyfriend watching my kids and I wanted police assistance.
    I was standing at the window, waiting then I Heard get down.. there was no identifying himself as a officer.
    I started to turn to see who it was yelling get down.
    I was then tased in my back, I fell onto a speaker and I was trying to get up off the speaker as it was uncomfortable under my back.
    Then I feel another tase to my back, I went to get up again thinking my boyfriend was stabbing me in the back with a knife, I then got tased again.
    I was totally clueless what was going on to me, I felt like i was having a heart attack. The police obviously used aggressive force, especially on a female who was not doing nothing but standing at the window.. (the officer claims he thought I was going to jump out yet it was the first floor.. the hospital papers for my cpk test says that my cardiac levels were high due to being tasered by police it says possible heart muscle damage.
    When I woke up the next day I was then informed I was going to be taken to a mental facility as they have to take all patients tased by a gun for further evaluation.
    They kept me for 3 weeks as my blood pressure was sky high as they were trying to medicate me to lower my blood pressure.
    I have proof of my blood pressure readings following the 3 weeks after my tase.. with extremely high numbers a year and a half later I still have bad blood pressure problems which I never had before.

  11. I am so happy to see the Comment by Jess. I grew up in a small town full of poverty and drugs/crime. To most it is a way of life.. The police probably could gain control of the high level of drug use if they wanted to but they would get bored and have cut backs. April 9th my niece and nephews father suddenly past away, the autopsy isn’t back yet but the officers say hey admitted to having done a gram of meth prior to the stop and also swallowing a gram when they hit their lights then he ran into the woods where the officers found him and used their Taser. The report states he was hiding behind a tree and they walked up from behind him when they attempted to arrest him that he pushed them and his hands fell out of sight so in fear for their safety they used the Taser. That is when they bound his legs and wrists and carried him out they claim that is when he admitted to doing the large amount of drugs they say they asked him if he needed medical attention and he refused… they allegedly place him in one car the driver in another and headed to the jail, 3 miles down the road while talking to the officers he collapsed so they pulled over to help him called 911 and he was pronounced dead on arrival at the local hospital which is only another 5 miles away at best. The thing that bothers me is the driver of the car that was stopped said that he did not refuse med attention. but that he was begging for help because he couldn’t breathe and that the officers placed her in the car and him face down on ground for at least ten min before placing him in car the officer told the driver when she asked will he be alright? ” I have been tased before he will be okay in a min” I know this man and he is not perfect nor was he off of drugs but I know him so well that in 15 years he has never ate/ swallowed and drugs when being pulled over and didn’t try to hide it if he was going to run he threw it and later walked the area till he found it even when it wasn’t enough to care about.. He had a history of panic attacks and I can only imagine the horror he felt to beg for help cause he couldn’t breathe and not be taken seriously by the only people that have the power or control to protect u or get the help u need. I can’t let this go this is not the first time this sort of thing has happened here and if no one does anything it won’t be the last… I believe that no one should be allowed the authority to send an electrical current through your body. maybe if they couldn’t use it but once for 5 seconds or there was a law on where they can hit u with it…. RIP my friend

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