The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) has released a study claiming that police throughout the Empire State are overusing and misusing TASERs. Click here to read Taking Tasers Seriously; The need for better regulation of stun guns in New York. Based on 851 TASER incident reports from eight police departments, the study’s bullet points paint a picture of police who don’t follow TASER guidelines (findings after the jump), mostly using the stun gun for “pain compliance” on suspects passively resisting The Man. As our man Fusaro pointed out, the map is not the territory; it’s hard to judge TASER use without considering the totality of the circumstances surrounding deployment. And introducing race into the debate is, perhaps, not helpful. Still, the NYCLU’s call for better TASER training and monitoring (rather than new regulations) is a damn fine idea.
- Nearly 60 percent of reported Taser incidents did not meet expert-recommended criteria that limit the weapon’s use to situations where officers can document active aggression or a risk of physical injury.
- Fifteen percent of incident reports indicated clearly inappropriate Taser use, such as officers shocking people who were already handcuffed or restrained.
- Only 15 percent of documented Taser incidents involved people who were armed or who were thought to be armed, belying the myth that Tasers are most frequently used as an alternative to deadly force.
- More than one-third of Taser incidents involved multiple or prolonged shocks, which experts link to an increased risk of injury and death.
- More than a quarter of Taser incidents involved shocks directly to subjects’ chest area, despite explicit warnings by the weapon’s manufacturer that targeting the chest can cause cardiac arrest.
- In 75 percent of incidents, no verbal warnings were reported, despite expert recommendations that verbal warnings precede Taser firings.
- 40 percent of the Taser incidents analyzed involved at-risk subjects, such as children, the elderly, the visibly infirm and individuals who are seriously intoxicated or mentally ill.