SANTA ROSA, California – Over the last several months there has been increasing interest shown by the media about the startling number of deaths associated with the use of Taser guns by law enforcement authorities. A recent death in Northern California has brought the issue closer to home.
On Saturday night, December 20, 2008, a 39-year-old Santa Rosa man was killed after being struck by three Taser shots. The man had been reported by his elderly mother to be assaulting his father and trashing the residence. According to the Associated Press, the responding Sonoma County Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the residence to find the son combative and non-compliant with their demands. A Taser was fired at the man. It was claimed that he continue to resist arrest and two more Taser shots were fired. This subdued the man and as handcuffs were being applied, the deputies realized that he was in "medical distress." The man later died in the hospital.
In response to media inquiries in the past few years, the Taser manufacturers have insisted that their products are safe when used as directed. These weapons have been touted for years as an innovation in non-lethal force. As the number of Taser-related deaths continue to occur, one has to wonder if the devices are safe, or if the training in their use is adequate. We will need to keep a watchful eye on this subject, as it is hard to find justification for the ever-increasing number of fatalities associated with this method of force.