I'll offer my dissenting opinion here. If she had been a 6'4" 250lb man that was not cooperating, I would say there was a little more justification.
The police should not have any difficulty at all controlling the average citizen though basic joint locks and pressure point techniques. As far as tasers go, not really all that "non-leathal"...
Amnesty International Documents 103 TASER-Related Deaths
author: AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
TASER-Related Deaths Hit Triple-Digits as Manufacturer (TASR) Grossly Exaggerates the Number of Lives Saved By TASERs. Amnesty International Documents 103 TASER-Related Deaths and Disputes Claims That TASERs Have Saved 6,000 Lives
(Washington, DC)—Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) released today a document announcing that TASER-related deaths in the United States and Canada have hit triple digits growing from 74 in November 2004 to 103. The new number covers June 2001 to March 2005. Additionally, AIUSA presented evidence proving that Taser International, Inc., has been misleading the public and law enforcement about the number of lives allegedly saved by TASERs. AIUSA admits that lives have undoubtedly been saved by TASERs and welcomes any news that there has been a decrease in fatal shootings by law enforcement, but a review of the cases on Taser's Website actually provided more evidence to support Amnesty International's conclusion that there is widespread abuse of TASERs that, in some cases, constitutes ill-treatment and torture.
"AIUSA supports the development of non-lethal alternatives to firearms, and we believe that police officers should have every tool necessary to do their jobs safely and effectively," said Dr. William F. Schulz, Executive Director, Amnesty International USA. "However, it has been difficult to engage in an honest debate about TASER usage when the truth seems to be as elusive as an independent, comprehensive medical study supporting claims that TASERs are generally safe."
In May 2004, Taser International Inc., spokesman Steve Tuttle made a frighteningly accurate prediction when he told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that the number of TASER-related deaths "will continue to increase with the number of devices we sell." Of the 103 TASER-related deaths documented by Amnesty International, 65 percent of them occurred during the last 15 months. If the current trend continues—noting that TASER-related deaths appear to spike between May and August—this year is on track to be a record-breaking year. In the first three months of 2005, there have already been twice as many TASER-related deaths (13) as there were during the same period in 2004 (six), and as many as there were all year in 2002 (13). The analysis provides a state-by-state breakdown of the deaths, which occurred in 25 states and Canada.
The updated information flags a disturbing pattern that parallels the alarming increase in deaths. Amnesty cites that the weapons have been mentioned 17 times (out of 103) by medical examiners who have said that the TASER played a role, could not be ruled out, or could not determine the exact role the TASER played. Now, according to the information released by Amnesty International, TASERs have been referenced frequently enough that they are the fourth most commonly listed factor in TASER-related deaths. Drug intoxication is first, pre-existing heart conditions second, and excited delirium is third.
In its November 2004 report on TASER use in the United States and Canada, Amnesty International cited pre-existing heart conditions as a possible contributing factor in TASER-related deaths. The U.S. Department of Defense and the English, Canadian, and Australian governments have also cited the potential vulnerability of individuals with pre-existing heart conditions to TASER shocks as an area in which further studies are needed. Amnesty International's information points out that all but one of the deaths were among men with an average age of 37. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, pre-existing heart conditions are the second leading cause of death for men age 25-44, and the American Heart Association says that approximately one in three men in the United States is currently living with a pre-existing cardiovascular disease.
"The prevalence of pre-existing heart conditions in the population that has died after being shocked with a TASER is an example of why Amnesty International has called for the suspended use of TASERs by law enforcement," said Gerald LeMelle, Deputy Executive Director for Advocacy. "Do the math. If one out of every three men in the United States is living with a pre-existing heart condition, each time the police shock someone with a TASER, they are playing a game of high-tech Russian roulette. Now it is not a question of if, but a matter of when, the next TASER-related death will occur."
Taser frequently boasts that its electro-shock weapons are "saving lives everyday." The company has posted a document on its Web site alleged to contain more than 685 reports involving individuals who would now be dead if a TASER had not been used. They say that, "the use of the TASER non-lethal weapon saved a subject's life" by preventing a suicide or an escalation of violence. AIUSA accepted Taser International's challenge to read the reports, and found that the company is not only overstating the life-saving potential of its weapon, but it is misleading the public and law enforcement about the actual content of these reports. AIUSA provides 111 of examples from the company's Web site in which it would be difficult, if not impossible, to say that in the absence of a TASER police would have killed the individuals in these respective cases.
In fact, AIUSA read more examples to support its assertion that the electro-shock weapons are being abused. The reports on Taser International's Web site showed that TASERs are being used on unarmed individuals, children, people who were restrained, individuals who are physically disabled, and an overwhelming number of emotionally distressed individuals. If anything, TASERs are frequently being used instead of seeking the assistance of mental health professionals. Using categories provided by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), AIUSA was able to disaggregate the reports showing that 52 percent of the reports were alleged to be attempted suicides; 15 percent involved officers disrupting a crime in progress; 13 percent were individuals fleeing, and 5 percent were undetermined. The combined instances of a suspect attacking a police officer or a civilian only accounted for 14 percent of the cases.
The company claims, "a reasonable and conservative estimate is that over 6,000 lives have been saved with TASER energy weapons," meaning that in the absence of a TASER these 6,000 people would be dead. But this highly speculative assumption is statistically improbable. For instance, if Taser International's claims were true, and 6,000 lives had been saved during a six-year period, justifiable homicides by police, a statistic maintained by the BJS, would have dropped significantly. For Taser's claims to be true, no people would have been killed by police in the line of duty for the last six years. Taser's data is impossible to corroborate or verify.
AIUSA applauds the noble efforts of police officers to make split seconds decisions that have, without question, resulted in saved lives, but it is disingenuous for the cases that clearly do not rise to that level to be exploited. AIUSA calls on Taser International to stop using misleading information—like claiming that its product has saved 6,000 lives—and to remove this information from its Website and all of its promotional materials.
The review of the cases also yielded unanticipated results. Based on information from Taser's Web site, it appears as though TASERs failed to incapacitate suspects 32 percent of the time, requiring officers to apply more shocks. This means that TASERs only worked 63 percent of the time—far from the 95 percent effectiveness rate mentioned in Taser International's marketing materials.
Amnesty International supports the development of non-lethal alternatives to firearms. However, a sincere, honest debate on TASER use should be based on the truth.
CONTACT: Edward Jackson (202) 544-0200 x 302 or (202) 251-3894 mobile
source url: http://www.amnestyusa.org/news/docum...256FD60068C20A