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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(163) Second statement on the medical implications of the use of the M26 Advanced Taser, DOMILL, July 2004, page 3. This current work included research into the effect of recreational drugs on cardiac function. DOMILL reported that the "results from the study … suggest that some frequently abused drugs have the potential to contribute to any cardiac-related morbidity or mortality that may arise in the context of Taser use. Furthermore, it seems reasonable to assume that this conclusion could be generalised to other emotionally charged and possibly violent confrontations with law enforcement personnel." (ibid at page 3)

(164) The guidance states that "where it becomes apparent that the subject has an existing medical condition or is under the influence of drugs, assessment of these additional risk factors should be made on determining the appropriate option."

(165) The guidelines also state that "Close monitoring of a subject throughout the period following application of the Taser is of utmost importance. If the person is detained in a cell they should be subject to the same cell supervision provided for persons who have consumed alcohol or drugs. If there are any signs of adverse or unusual reactions then medical attention should be provided immediately and if necessary this must be given precedence over conveying the subject to the police station".

(166) The review was conducted by Dr Anthony Bleetman (Consultant in Accident and Emergency Medicine, Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, UK and Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer, Dept of Surgery, University of Birmingham, UK) and Dr Richard Steyn (a Consultant in Thoracic Surgery, Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, Birmingham, UK). Their findings have been published as The Advanced Taser: a Medical Review, Bleetman and Steyn, April 27 2003 (available at the Taser International web-site).

(167) A Bleetman, R Steyn, C Lee. "Introduction of the Taser into British policing. Implications for UK emergency departments: an overview of electronic weaponry", Emerg Med J. 2004; 21: 136-140 (accepted for publication June 2003)

(168) Data from US Department of Health and Human Services, published in July 2004, showed that 11% of US adults aged 18 and over had ever been told they had some form of heart disease and 13 million (6%) had been diagnosed with coronary heart disease. This figure does not include those with undiagnosed heart problems.

(169) Turner MS, Jumbelic ML, Case Report: Stun Gun Injuries in the Abuse and Death of a Seven-Month-Old Infant, Journal of Forensic Sciences 2003, 48: 180-2.

(170) Report of Coroner, Will County, Illinois, in case of Jose Guadalupe Garcia.

(171) Report of Autopsy in case of Larry Frazier, Office of Chief Medical Examiner, Commonwealth of Virginia, July 2000.

(172) These require inter alia that law enforcement officials shall, as far as possible, apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force and firearms; exercise restraint in such use and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offence and the legitimate objective to be pursued; minimize damage and injury, and respect and preserve human life. Law enforcement officials shall not use firearms except in self-defence or the defence of others against the imminent threat of death or serious injury; in any event, intentional lethal use of firearms may only be made when strictly unavoidable to protect life. (See appendix for extracts from the standards)

(173) "Overseas we primarily sell to law enforcement, and then when they are comfortable, we move to the mass market.

(174) (accessed 9/2004) Reference : ADVANCED TASER M26 se pouziva v ozbrojenych slozkach techto statu:

(175) Australasian Business Intelligence, July 2, 2002: This gun's a stunner but not for criminals.

(176) Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News 23/9/2003: Scottsdale, Ariz.-Based Stun Gun Maker Continues to See Growth

(177) Airline Industry Information, March 28, 2002: Korean Airlines signs contract with Taser International.