Death by Taser
The first death officially attributed to police use of a Taser occurred in Chicago.
[Ronald] Hasse was shot with the Taser as police tried to subdue him in a 26th-floor Lakeview apartment after they arrived to help Fire Department personnel and Hasse allegedly tried to bite an officer. Denton said Hasse received the electrical shock produced by the Taser for 57 seconds, more than 10 times the usual amount.
Taser International predictably denied that the medical examiner's conclusion is accurate. TI inevitably argues that people who die after being shocked by Tasers were killed by their own drug abuse. Hasse had methamphetamine in his blood, a factor the medical examiner viewed as a contributing cuase of his death. Unlike other cases, the medical examiner carefully reviewed the evidence and concluded that the Taser was "the principal cause of Hasse's death."
Even if Tasers are most likely to kill drug users, it's forseeable that some individuals who disobey a police officer (and who are Tasered as a result) will have taken drugs. Their drug use shouldn't condemn them to a death sentence. Perhaps this medical examiner's courageous conclusion will finally convince policy makers that Tasers should not be part of law enforcement's arsenal.
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