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AZ Cops & Tasers. Maricopa Cty: Most Taser Deaths

Over the past decade I and many others have blogged about individual cases where tasers have been abused by law enforcement agencies and individual law enforcement officials. From the Baron Pikes case where a young black man in custody was tased to death by a white police officer in a small town in Louisiana until he died to the increase in taser use in Chicago to the tasing of a a bedridden 86 year old grandmother in El Reno, Oklahoma, to the man tazed while having a diabetic seizure -- well you get the point. There's a vast number of such stories where tasers were used in situations for which they were not intended, but few comprehensive studies to support the claims by activists that taser abuse by law enforcement in America is widespread.

Fort that reason, I'm gratified to learn that the ACLU in Arizona took it upon themselves to fund a study to determine whether tasers are being systematically abused by Arizona law enforcement agencies. The results of that study should not surprise anyone. From the Executive Summary:

Many U.S. law enforcement and correctional agencies in the United States are using Tasers today. In Arizona, where TASER International has its corporate headquarters, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Arizona asked large police departments and sheriff’s offices about the number and percentage of officers armed with a Taser; virtually every sworn officer is provided with one.

... However, all too often, Tasers are used “preemptively” against citizens that do not present an imminent safety threat, and even offensively as a pain compliance tool. What’s more, both TASER International training materials and agency policies anticipate that officers will use the weapon as a pain compliance tool.

Read on...

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