Tasers are supposed to be the "kinder, gentler" approach to law enforcement.
Instead of a gun, officers are encouraged to use tasers to control a suspect -- however tasers may have actually made police more inclined to use force than they once were.
Think of it this way: An officer might never consider pulling out a gun -- which is obviously lethal -- to use on a suspect who is slow to respond to commands or who seems to be resisting orders. However, that same officer might not think twice about pulling out a taser and using it on the same suspect -- while unpleasant and temporarily disabling, tasers are supposed to be safe. There's no real harm done if an officer uses it to exert control or shorten an otherwise potentially difficult encounter, right?
Tasers have been behind more than 400 wrongful death claims. They've cost the public over $170 million in losses paid out as compensation to the families of victims killed by tasers at the hands of police officers nationwide.
The statistics reveal an unfortunate and scary reality: A lot of police officers don't actually realize just how deadly a taser can be -- despite warnings that the manufacturer (and the courts) say are clear.
Sadder still, about 25 percent of those who die from tasers used by the police are the very people who need police intervention the most -- the mentally ill in the middle of an emotional crisis. Often, the police are called to the scene to help get the mentally ill person to a hospital -- instead, the individual ends up in a morgue.
What's more disturbing still is the fact that 90 percent of those who have been killed by tasers were unarmed. It's hard to imagine a police officer willing to pull a gun so easily on an unarmed suspect, but there's ample evidence that officers don't think twice about using a taser in those same situations.
If your family member died after being shot with a taser by law enforcement, consider talking to an attorney about the possibility of a wrongful death claim. There's no other way to make the public aware of the real dangers they face at the hands of the police unless people step forward and assert their rights.
Source: Reuters, "U.S. police, cities have faced at least 435 wrongful death suits involving tasers," Jason Szep, Aug. 23, 2017