By Michelle S. Kramisen
Taser Abuse Caught on Tape
Sat Dec 9, 2006 19:59

Taser Abuse Caught on Tape

By Michelle S. Kramisen, Copy Editor

For some time there has been controversy over the use of taser guns and their involvement with police forces. But now more than ever, due to the growing amount of deaths, people are questioning police motives and the benefits of using this lethal weapon.

Many deaths have occurred from taser guns; even with just one hit, causing people to stop breathing. The taser gun, although still an unregulated weapon, is used carelessly by police forces around the country.

According to aclu.org, “Tasers work by firing twin metal barbs that emit a 50,000-volt charge into an individual, causing him/her to collapse from loss of muscular control.”

The amount of people each year dying from reckless use of this weapon is continuously rising. After one hit from a taser gun, people usually fall to the ground and are unable to get back up. So when a UCLA student was unfairly tasered on Nov. 15, the question of police brutality was brought up.

This video, which was posted on youtube.com, showed a student, who was unable to show his identification in the library, being tasered by police officers, then falling to the ground. After these officers repeatedly asked him to get up, which the student couldn’t due to the voltage of the taser, the officers tasered him again.

Jerome Thomson, a senior political science major said, “I think taser guns are taken too lightly by law enforcement and shouldn’t be used as much as they are.”

According to aclu.org, “Since 1999, at least 148 people in the United States and Canada have died after encounters with police who shocked them with tasers. More than half of those deaths occurred in the past year, of which 15 took place in northern and central California.”

The deaths have to do with improper use of the tasers, usually being shocked twice is more than enough: “Several of the California victims were stunned with tasers repeatedly before they died, including Andrew Washington of Vallejo, who was tased 17 times in three minutes,” according to the site.

But others have different opinions, including the police departments and taser.com, the official company that delivers these weapons to countries around the world. The taser guns are said to be helpful by stopping police and suspect injuries from a safe distance, since tasers can be shot up to 35 feet from the alleged suspect. Although others think the use of tasers are being overused.

“I think police officers abuse the tasers because they are non-lethal,” said Tim Light, junior electrical engineer major.

According to the site, police in Hemet Calif. use tasers about 12 times per month, and 30 percent of the time people surrender after seeing the taser. Hemet Deputy Police Chief Tony Margis said that they have not lost an officer to an on-duty injury during a physical confrontation since the TASER X26s were issued and that one minor abrasion to a suspect who fell to the ground has been reported.

On the site there are many other statistics and testimonies from officers stating the benefits the taser gun has provided throughout police departments in the United States. But nothing is stated from the victims.

According to the dailybruin.com, who reported on the UCLA incident, police officers would not comment on the situation. When the student failed to show his ID, the police left. As the student was leaving the library, the police officers grabbed his arm, and when the student protested for him to get off, he was tasered repeatedly.

Taser guns are said to be used only when one is suspected of harm to others, and according to other UCLA students, this adult was simply studying.

Due to previous reports, officers should have the knowledge that due to the loss of muscle control, suspects are usually not able to stand up after the first taser shot.

According to the Daily Bruin, during the incident, “As the student and the officers were struggling, bystanders repeatedly asked the police officers to stop, and at one point officers told the gathered crowd to stand back and threatened to use a Taser on anyone who got too close.”

One student who was in the library during the incident, said police officers threatened to shoot her with a Taser when she asked an officer for his name and his badge number.

“At the moment this campus does not use them nor do we see a need for them,”said SUNY New Paltz University Police Chief Ray Bryant. “In fact, most police departments in Ulster County do not use taser guns, but a school such as SUNY Albany does.”

Although our campus police do not carry taser guns, it is important to realize the abuse that comes with the handling of taser guns. While there are positive uses of such a weapon, unfair treatment that occurs around the country from this weapon, our campus should be thankful that at least for now, our UPD does not use them

E-mail Michelle at Kramis41@newpaltz.edu
http://oracle.newpaltz.edu/article.cfm?id=2818

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