The controversy surrounding the Taser and its use by law enforcements comes from the fact that the use of the Taser does sometimes lead to death. While it is especially dangerous to use on children and pregnant women able bodied men are sometimes killed by Taser use. These deaths can be due to many underlying causes but are all caused by use of a taser on them. These death are even more prevalent among people who have been doing drugs. This comes due to symptoms of excited delirium, which can cause a person to move around more than they would under normal conditions. This can lead to more Taser shocks on the subject and these repeated shocks can cause major damage to their system.(22) These death detract from the fact that the Taser is a less lethal weapon in the arsenal of law enforcement. Taser does allow them to subdue an assailant from a distance in a way that has very few lasting effects. It can be argued that the death of these outliers should not take away these devices that make law enforcement safer for those performing it. It can also be argued that the deaths that happened were due to underlying conditions and were not the cause of Taser use.
To examine both sides of the issue I will examine some articles from the popular press that talk about events that happened to people right after they were shocked with a taser. I will also look at some articles that examine the issue from a medical standpoint that have done tests on the subject. I will also use perspectives of law journals and other sources to present both sides of the issue.
I will begin by looking at the more popular side of the debate, that law enforcement officers should not be permitted to use Taser devices. The first article that will be examined is Relation of Taser (Electrical Stun Gun) Deployment to Increase in In-Custody Sudden Deaths. This article written by a group of 6 people including two doctors and two scientists. They use statistics obtained from surveys filled out by law enforcement agencies to prove there point, that the use of taser by law enforcement does not reduce the deaths and injuries in custody. Statistics are used to show that in the years after the introduction of the Taser the amount of in custody sudden deaths that did not use a firearm increased 6.4 percent in the year of deployment(3). While the taser is advertised to decrease the amount of in custody lethal force deaths, statistics show this to not be the case. While the amount of in custody sudden deaths did return to the levels of before the deployment of such weapons it did not decrease deaths. This article shows that law enforcement officials do not always use these devices correctly leading to more deaths in custody. (6)