In the past decade at least 500 people in the United States who were shocked by Tasers died during their arrest or soon after while in jail, according to data from Amnesty International. As a result, Amnesty is calling for new, tougher restrictions on the use of the technology. From Amnesty International:
The deaths of 500 people following police use of Tasers underscores the need for tighter rules limiting the use of such weapons in law enforcement, Amnesty International said.
According to data collected by Amnesty International, at least 500 people in the USA have died since 2001 after being shocked with Tasers either during their arrest or while in jail.
On 13 February, Johnnie Kamahi Warren was the latest to die after a police officer in Dothan, Alabama deployed a Taser on him at least twice. The 43-year-old, who was unarmed and allegedly intoxicated, reportedly stopped breathing shortly after being shocked and was pronounced dead in hospital less than two hours later.
“Of the hundreds who have died following police use of Tasers in the USA, dozens and possibly scores of deaths can be traced to unnecessary force being used,” said Susan Lee, Americas Programme Director at Amnesty International.
I think this is an important moment to again highlight the fact that there is currently no such thing as “non-lethal” police weapons. Under the right conditions rubber bullets, pepper spray, beanbag rounds, electricity based weapons, etc., can result and have resulted in deaths.
This is critical to keep in mind as we continue to pay for a radical militarization of American police forces and tactics. Police have shown a growing willingness to freely use these “less lethal” — but potentially still deadly — weapons in highly inappropriate circumstances, such as to simply inflict pain on non-violent protesters.