December 4, 2009

Taser Advisory to Cops: 'Our Guns May Cause Heart Attack'

Taser International, the maker of taser guns is advising police officers to avoid shooting suspects in the chest with the 50,000-volt weapon, saying that it could pose an extremely low risk of an "adverse cardiac event."

The advisory, issued in an Oct. 12 training bulletin, marks the first time that Taser has suggested any risk of ill effects on the heart from the use of its 50,000-volt taser guns.

Critics, including civil-rights lawyers and human-rights advocates, called the training bulletin an admission by Taser that its guns could cause cardiac arrest.

For years, Taser officials have said in interviews, court cases and government hearings that the stun gun is incapable of inducing ventricular fibrillation, the chaotic heart rhythm characteristic of a heart attack.

This is a stunning reversal for the company, which for years has maintained that the gun was incapable of inducing a cardiac arrest.

But Taser officials reply that the bulletin does not state that Tasers can cause cardiac arrest. They said the advisory means only that law-enforcement agencies can avoid controversy over the subject if their officers aim at areas other than the chest.

"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 Taser . . . could have played," the bulletin says.

The bulletin recommends that when aiming at the front of a suspect, the best target for officers is the major muscles of the pelvic area or thigh region. "Back shots remain the preferred area when practical," it says.
Police departments across the United States reacted immediately to the bulletin, with some ordering officers to follow Taser's instructions and begin aiming at the abdomen, legs or back of a suspect.

The guns are used by more than 12,000 police agencies across the country.

Advocacy groups such as Amnesty International allege that Taser guns are often used by police as a compliance tool on unarmed individuals who pose no deadly threat, who are drunk or on drugs and simply quarrel with officers.

This is the first time that we've seen a chink in the taser-happy armor of the manufacturer and the police. I wonder if police will think twice before using tasers outside of the 'use of force continuum' policy? [NOTE: Gunfighter is a law enforcement officer who conducts training on the 'use of force continuum'. He provides a comprehensive explanation that I encourage all villagers to read].

What are your thoughts on this admission from Taser International?


Eddie G. Griffin said...

Thanks for posting this story. I've been on top of it all day. We, the Village and AfroSpear, made it happen. This is the ultimate concession from TASER International short of an admission that TASERS KILL

Unknown said...

Eddie - I'm still disappointed that the Judiciary Committee hasn't elevated this issue for congressional hearings...

Gunfighter said...

TASERs kill, batons kills, fists and feet kill, choke holds kills. All of those things kill, even when they aren't supposed to. Just like hair-dryes, automobiles, firearms, and fatty foods.

Anonymous said...


As I've said before, I'm really proud of all the work you've done to bring special attention to this issue. Nothing short of amazing. I also promised to support you and my wife and I wanted to make sure we didn't let you down. I really apologize for just getting our post in barely under the wire, but we've been swamped. But did want you to know we didn't forget. When you get a chance, swing on by the Spot and check it out.

And here's the link:

Unknown said...

Gunfighter - Your post is one of the best that I've read as I've wandered thru cyberspace today. I look forward to the day when the frequency of these unintended deaths are less than one per week...

Keith - I'm heading over to visit your blog right now...