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Taser Maker Warns: Don’t Shoot At Chest

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, October 22, 2009 12:52 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Taser, Law Enforcement, Sudden Cardiac Arrest, Heart Attack

Taser International warns for the first time about not using the stun gun on the chest

“Extremely Low” Risk of Heart Complications


IMAGE SOURCE: Taser International Web site

Avoid the head, neck and chest.

Those are among new recommendations issued in an October 12 advisory from stun gun maker, Taser International, in response to the sudden cardiac arrest and deaths of people in police custody.

Taser International of Scottsdale, Arizona explains there is an ‘extremely low” risk of ill effects, but folds the advise into “effective risk management for law enforcement agencies” rather than safety.

That is a reference to defending an agency from lawsuits.

A Taser spokesman tells AP there have been 96 lawsuits and Taser has won all or had them dismissed except one, which is on appeal.

The stun gun is used by 14,200 law enforcement agencies around the country to subdue difficult suspects.

It shoots 50,000-volts into a suspect to immediately subdue him. The company manual includes a lengthy explanation about deaths that can result from sudden cardiac arrest, reports AP and recommends “refined target zones” including from the sternum down avoiding the head, neck, and chest to help avoid controversy.

"Should sudden cardiac arrest occur in a scenario involving a Taser discharge to the chest area, it would place the law enforcement agency, the officer, and Taser International in the difficult situation of trying to ascertain what role, if any, (the device) could have played," according to the manual.

This is the first time a stun gun manufacturer has suggested any risk of heart attack results from its product.

"It's a sea change, a passive acknowledgment that Taser has indeed been overconfident about its claims of safety," said Mark Silverstein, legal director of the ACLU of Colorado to AP. "It underscores the question marks that have been adding up along with hundreds of bodies."

Amnesty International reports more than 350 people in the U.S. have died after they were shocked with Tasers. At least 50 of those deaths have linked the Taser shock to the death.

Just last week, the Los Angeles Times reports that a 19-year-old San Bernardino man died after being Tasered by police.

Mark Green, 46, ran naked around a Houston area apartment complex, banged on doors, broke into an apartment and climbed into the front seat of an officer’s patrol car. Deputies Tasered him four times. His death was ruled a homicide due to acute cocaine toxicity and cardiovascular disease. But he also had had two stents placed in his chest about six months before his death.

His mother suggests the Taser should not be used on anyone unless you know their medical condition. #


Anonymous User
Posted by George Gray
Thursday, October 22, 2009 9:51 PM EST

Tasers answer

Anonymous User
Posted by June Taylor
Friday, October 23, 2009 5:43 AM EST

"We have not stated that Taser causes [cardiac] events in this bulletin, only that the refined target zones avoid any potential controversy on this topic," Steve Tuttle, vice president of communications for Taser, said in a prepared statement.
Taser officials say lowering of a Taser from the chest will incapacitate someone more effectively. The bulletin notes police can still shoot a suspect's chest if there isn't a better option.

Comments for this article are closed.

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