16 February, 2012
The Taser, the non-lethal law enforcement weapon
that is meant to incapacitate criminals without causing great harm, has
killed at least 500 people last decade. The real number of casualties might
be even higher.
In the period between 2001 and early 2012, the stun-gun Taser devices used
by law enforcement across America have claimed the lives of 500 people.
Amnesty International, the worldwide advocacy group that condemns torture
and human rights violations, delivered the news this week with a report
released Wednesday. In it, they reveal that the recent death of a Georgia
man who died as a result of a Taser blast puts the body count brought on by
the device at 500 in barely a decades’ time.
Despite being branded as a non-lethal alternative to firearms, hundreds of
Americans have died from Taser blasts.
On Monday this week, law enforcement responded to a call of a drunk and
disorderly person in Houston County, Georgia. When they arrived at a bar,
the man in question, 43 year old Johnnie Kamahi Warren, was already on the
ground. According to the local Dothan Eagle, a sheriff’s deputy still
deployed blasts from a Taser gun on the man. Twice.
He died moments later
and now the officer who fired those shots is being investigated, all while
on paid administrative leave.
Warren is number 500 on the list of Taser-related casualties, and Amnesty
International says that number is too high to warrant a wake-up call this
late in the game.
"Of the hundreds who have died following police use of Tasers in the United
States, dozens and possibly scores of deaths can be traced to unnecessary
force being used," Susan Lee, Americas program director at Amnesty
International, writes in a press release.
"This is unacceptable, and
stricter guidelines for their use are now imperative."
Over the last decade, hundreds of others like Warren have died either
directly or as a result of Taser blasts.
Law enforcement continues to use
the tools, however, and many feel that often that’s a decision that could be
In a 2008 report titled USA: Stun weapons in law enforcement, it was
revealed that 90 percent of the Taser casualty cases studied involved a
victim that was unarmed. Droves of Americans are left dead by Taser blasts
every year and in many cases it is revealed that they posed little threat to
the officers responsible.
One victim that was executed in 2009 by Taser was only 15 years old. Another
person twice that age was victimized that same year by Tasers, but it took
19 blasts from trigger-happy cops to kill that man.
Another recent victim, Billy Walters III, was shot by Tasers in a separate
Georgia incident. He was intoxicated when cops arrived, and although he
repeatedly told them “I give up,” they acted by firing several blasts into
Walters was hanging from a ledge during the assault.
He fell and was later
"Even if deaths directly from Taser shocks are relatively rare, adverse
effects can happen very quickly, without warning, and be impossible to
reverse," Amnesty International’s Lee adds.
"Given this risk, such weapons
should always be used with great caution, in situations where lesser
alternatives are unavailable."
Even with this warning and countless others, however, Tasers continue to be
a routine weapon used by law enforcement.
After a 2008 incident that left a
17-year-old boy dead after a Taser attack, a federal court ruled that Taser
International, the maker of the guns, did not provide adequate warning or
instruction to the Charlotte Police Department responsible for the death,
and that proper knowledge could have prevented the casualty from occurring.
A federal jury said that Taser International should compensate the family of
the slain boy to the tune of $10 million.
The manufacturer is planning on
appealing that decision.
"I'm glad the verdict was in our favor, but we're definitely not
celebrating," the mother of slain Darryl Wayne Turner told the Associated
Press last year.
"It cannot bring back my son's life. Hopefully, it will
help others in the future dealing with Tasers."
A year later, however, the body count continues to rise.
Amnesty says that between the states of California, Florida and Texas,
around 200 people have been killed by Tasers in the last decade in just
those three states.
website Truth…Not Tasers put a figure of
American Taser-related deaths at 682 last year (America is killing
its own people!)