Evidence has been mounting for years that Tasers are more dangerous than their manufacturer and law enforcement officials, who tout the weapon as a nonlethal alternative to firearms, have claimed.Over the past dozen years, 540 people, most of them unarmed, have died after being tased by police, according to a report from Amnesty International. Last year, the American Heart Association published the first scientific, peer-reviewed study showing that the devices can cause heart attacks and death.
In 2009, Taser International changed its safety warnings to suggest that users not aim for the chest, a seemingly minor tweak that nonetheless signaled the company's concern about its liability in wrongful death suits. This year, the company tweaked its safety warnings once again, this time to include language that using its products "could result in death or serious injury."
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In response, several local police departments are permanently holstering their Tasers. Fox 4 reported over the weekend that the departments in Burleson, Crowley, Mansfield and Richland Hills have all decided to ban the devices.
In Mansfield, a police spokesman told CBS 11 that Chief Gary Fowler made the decision after discussing the matter with the city attorney. The station reports that the city of Murphy has previously implemented a ban.
None of the cities were explicit about why they made the decision, but Pete Shulte, a private attorney, has an idea.
"Well, now what Taser can do is say, 'Police department, we told you that these devices could cause serious injury or death. It's your policy that caused the injury to this person so we're out of it,'" he told Fox 4.