The ACLU has posted an interesting study that could have profound implications for criminal and torts cases involving injuries or deaths from tasers. We have been following such cases for years (here and here and here and here and here) now a study published by the American Heart Association refutes the claim that tasers are “nonlethal.” The AHA study shows that a rising number of people are dying after being hit by the 50,000 volt shocks (followed by 100 microsecond pulses of 1,200 volts). Since 2001, more than 500 people in the United States have died after being hit by police tasers.
A study appearing in the AHA’s Circulation Journal confirms the lethal record of tasers. It also details how they have been used against children, pregnant women and the mentally ill. As we have discussed, police are now using tasers with little restraint or judgment in many cases despite the danger of cardiac arrest and death.
Despite the strong evidence of the lethal qualities of tasers, police departments and the industry continue to push their use. My concern is that courts will find it increasingly difficult to reverse this trend. As a result, this high-level of injury will be treated as reasonable force in common confrontations with police.
Here is the original study: AHA Study