USA: Excessive and lethal force? Amnesty International's concerns about deaths and ill-treatment involving police use of Tasers

Report
November 29, 2004

USA: Excessive and lethal force? Amnesty International's concerns about deaths and ill-treatment involving police use of Tasers

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(1) Idsnews.com, 20 February 2004.

(2) See, for example, Amnesty International, The Pain Merchants: Security equipment and its use in torture and other ill-treatment (AI Index: ACT 40/008/2003)

(3) Principles 2 and 3 of the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, Havana, 1990 (U.N.Doc. A/CONF.144/28/Rev.1 at 112 (1990).

(4) Many US police departments use a "use of force continuum" setting out the appropriate force options in response to each resistance level, on a rising scale from "officer's presence" to use of deadly force.

(5) It is an acronym of Thomas A. Swift's Electrical Rifle, based on the child's novel Tom Swift and his Electric Rifle by Victor Appleton, published in 1911.

(6) Known by the alternative chemical name of Phencyclidine and a range of slang terms such as "angel dust".

(7) The original Taser operated on only 5 watts and was followed by Air Taser on 7 watts. The M18-M26 series of Tasers, introduced by Taser International in 1999 and 2000, operate on 18-26 watts of electrical output.

(8) According to company literature, the X26 is 5% more incapacitating than the M26 while using less energy, due to its advanced Shaped Pulse Technology which sends the hardest, high voltage, short duration, pulsed energy for the first two seconds, when the darts penetrate clothing, skin or other barriers, with a reduced rate for the rest of the hit.

(9) Taser International literature.

(10) According to testimony at the inquest into the death of William Lomax on 25 June 2004, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department stopped having officers "taze" each other during training after complaints from officers about having to take a "hit" and complaints about injuries from falling.

(11) Taser International, Certified Lesson Plan, Version 8.0, Advanced Taser M26.

(12) Neck and arm

(13) Outer thigh

(14) From transcript of inquest proceedings in case of William Lomax, Las Vegas, Nevada, 25 June 2004 (see more on this case under Deaths in Custody, below).