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

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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(60) Analysis produced for Taser International, dated May 2003, cited at note 47, above.

(61) As noted earlier, Taser International has estimated that it receives only about a tenth of all reports of Taser use from police. An article in the Arizona Daily Star on 26 May 2004 reported that ten children under 10, nine aged from one to six years, had been hit by Tasers, some inadvertently. The information was reportedly based on a print-out received from Taser International. Taser International told Amnesty International that the statistics cited were inaccurate and that the data had been misinterpreted (five uses, it said, were of animals). Amnesty International has not seen the print-out in question and at the time of writing was seeking further clarification from Taser International.

(62) Associated Press, 1 June 2004

(63) Houston Chronicle 26 September 2002

(64) St Petersburg Times, 11 June 2003

(65) As described above (1.2), the electrical charge can continue beyond the default five seconds, for as long as the officer's finger remains depressed on the trigger.

(66) According to a report in the Denver Post on 20 September 2004, a third of the 112 people tasered by Pueblo police since January 2003 were handcuffed.

(67) Police incident report

(68) See United States of America: Cruelty in Control? The stun belt and other electro-shock equipment in law enforcement (AI Index: AMR 51/054/1999)

(69) Advanced Taser M26 Field Report Analysis, op cit.

(70) Seattle Police Department Taser Use 2001-2003, Key Findings, May 2004

(71) The Oklahoman, 6 July 2004

(72) Willamette Weekly, op. cit.

(73) Taser International Certified Lesson Plan, op cit.

(74) The cartridge also releases confetti-like identification tags when fired (see Safeguards below).

(75) Letter from Mark Silverstein, Legal Director, ACLU of Colorado, to Denver Mayor's Task Force on police, 15 March 2004.

(76) Willamette Week report, op cit

(77) See, for example, Amnesty International reports USA: Cruelty in Control? The Stun Belt and other Electro-shock equipment in Law Enforcement (AI Index AMR 51/54/99); USA: Cruel and inhuman treatment in Virginia supermaximum security prisons (AMR 51/065/2001); USA: A briefing for the UN Committee against Torture (AMR 51/56/00); Combating Torture: a manual for action (Amnesty International Publications 2003, pp 35-36).

(78) US Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, letter to Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, 25 March 1996.

(79) See Amnesty International Report USA: Ill-treatment of inmates in Maricopa County Jails, Arizona (AMR 51/51/97).

(80) Report of Corrections Consultant on the Use of Force in the Marricopa County Jails, Phoenix, Arizona, prepared by George E Sullivan, Salem, Oregon May 14, 1997.

(81) United States of America v County of Maricopa et al, US District Court for the District of Arizona, Proposed Order 18 November 1997.

(82) Autopsy report in case of Lawrence Frazier, see below, under 2.7.

(83) The City of Mesa authorities informed Amnesty International that, following the decision not to prosecute the officer, the case would be reviewed by a Mesa Police Department Board of Inquiry to review the incident for possible violations of its policies and procedures.

(84) Information provided through conversations with Cindy Grippi's lawyer. Amnesty International was unable to obtain the transcripts of the expert testimony.

(85) Report to Amnesty International by Sidsel Rogde MD, PhD, Professor of Forensic Medicine, University of Oslo, Norway.

(86) City Pays Excessive Force Claim, 23 April 2004

(87) Aldred was also one of five officers involved in the arrest and death of Luis Torres, a migrant worker from Mexico, in January 2002. A medical examiner ruled Torres' death a homicide during a police struggle, caused by compression of his airways. However, Aldred and others were cleared of using excessive force in the case.

(88) Source: attorney for plaintiff; Houston Chronicle, 27 October 2003