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As a follow-up to my post on Taser issues last week, Tasers Can Kill And Deployment Policies Are Inconsistent Or Non-Existent, I’ve come across more information on one way that Tasers can kill. In my prior post, I reported that 32 year old Brian Cardall died last week after he was tased by a Hurricane, Utah police officer. According to his obituary, Brian died of apparent cardiac arrest shortly after the officer made the decision to deploy his Taser in an effort to subdue him for what the officer now says was erratic behavior.

As this video demonstrates, Tasers are effective in subduing even those who view themselves to be some of the toughest people around:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhkE3VTuPhk

But the "non-lethal" weapons manufactured by Taser International have killed hundreds of people over the years:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3d1QqV0O-Ho

It appears that at least some of those sudden deaths were caused by cardiac arrest. One Canadian heart specialist, Dr. Michael Janusz, told an inquiry panel in British Columbia that based on his review of the literature concerning Taser use, "almost all physicians would conclude that Taser can induce ventricular fibrillation" which can lead to cardiac arrest because if not interrupted quickly, the extremely rapid rhythms in the lower chambers of the heart prevent it from pumping blood.

Dr. Charles Kerr spoke to the same inquiry panel and essentially indicated that he agreed with Dr. Janusz by stating that based on his reading of animal studies and the agitated state of most people who are targeted with Tasers, a Taser jolt can cause ventricular fibrillation. One other researcher, electrical engineer James Ruggieri, has concluded that Taser induced cardiac arrests may not always be immediate and that injuries to those being tased may go undetected.

At the end of the day, however, some researchers, including Dr. Janusz and Dr. Kerr, who think Tasers can kill also think that in certain circumstances, they may be a safer choice than say, a gun. While that may be true, many law enforcement people equipped with Tasers seem to focus much more on their effectiveness than the potential risks their use entails. It seems that there should be more balance in the decision making process when these situations arise.

6 Comments

  1. Gravatar for Robert

    Taser Saves Lives Everyday silly lawyer. Blood sucking personal injury trial lawyers just hate that Taser International has whipped every lawyer to sue them to the tune of 90 to 0. A Taser cannot kill anyone unless they fall and hit their head.

  2. Gravatar for Bret Hanna

    Robert, thank you for your comment. I think if you do a little research, you will find that Taser use is very controversial, even in the law enforcement community. You will also find that Tasers have been the direct cause of deaths (as opposed to merely an indirect cause as you suggest)and that Taser International has paid victims who have been harmed by their products.

  3. Gravatar for Lawrence A. Oshanek
    Lawrence A. Oshanek

    My sincere sympathies to the family of Mr. Cardall. I regret that another person has been killed for the profit of a company and the comfort of a police officer.

    Electricity kills. Not every time and not in every form, but electricity does kill.

    Yes, tasers save lives every day ..... mainly because no one at Taser International is going hungry because their product is not selling to those who like to cause pain and torture. Ban the human cattle prod!

  4. Gravatar for Bret Hanna

    Here is some more good commentary on the Brian Cardall case and the use of Tasers generally:

    http://www.sltrib.com/columnists/ci_12595547

  5. Gravatar for Yossarian

    Tasers are weapons of torture. Cops, being psychopaths, love to torture because it is, for them, what passes for normal sex.

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