(New York) -- As Taser International, Inc. introduces its latest version of its civilian stun device today, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) noted two TASER-related deaths that occurred over the weekend and renewed its call for an independent and comprehensive study into their use.
"How many deaths related to these devices must occur before we have concrete, impartial information that accurately describes the potential dangers of use?" said Larry Cox, executive director for AIUSA. "In the hands of police officers, TASERs have been a questionable weapon at best. More than 220 people in the United States have died after being shocked with TASERs -- imagine the devastating consequences when they are put in the hands of the average Joe or Josephine. Clearly, there are reasons for concern."
According to news reports, a 45-year-old man died in Ft. Pierce, Fla., on Saturday as police tried to subdue him in the back of a patrol car, and in Queens, NY, an emotionally disturbed man died in a family member?s home after the police used a TASER to subdue him. He went into cardiac arrest and died at Franklin General Hospital.
AIUSA is particularly concerned that vulnerable groups such as children, the disabled, pregnant women and people with mental illnesses are being subjected to electric shocks from TASERs. The organization has received reports of individuals being TASERed while already handcuffed or having been placed in mechanical restraints. It has also received reports of TASERs being used to control unruly or uncooperative schoolchildren.
Studies conducted have not met the organization's criteria for an independent, impartial and comprehensive study. These studies have been limited in scope and methodology or have been biased by the involvement by a primary manufacturer of the weapons -- Taser International -- and police departments themselves. None of the studies has included an analysis of the deaths listed in Amnesty International's reports on TASER use in the United States.
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