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Friday, March 31, 2006

TASER-Related Deaths Increasingly Frequent; Total Exceeds 150, Reports Amnesty International

TASER Use Amounts to Torture in Some Cases

Common Dreams
Amnesty International

NEW YORK - March 28 - "[It was] the most horrendous experience [of my life]. At one point I just pretended like I was dead because I thought ... then they would stop." -- Patricia Skelly, who has a mental illness, and was shocked with a TASER between nine and 15 times while in jail and later in a hospital.

Sixty-one people died in 2005 after being shocked by law enforcement agency TASERs, a 27 percent increase from 2004's tally of 48 deaths, finds an Amnesty International study released today. Including 10 TASER-related deaths through mid-February of this year, at least 152 people have died in the United States since June 2001 after being shocked with the weapons.

"Despite a lack of independent research on TASER safety, police officers are using these weapons as a routine force tool -- rather than as a weapon of last resort," said Dr. William F. Schulz, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA (AIUSA). "These weapons have a record that's growing longer each week -- and it's not a good one. The increasingly frequent TASER-related deaths underscore the need for an independent, rigorous and impartial inquiry into their use."


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