Here in New York and across the country, Tasers have become the police weapon of choice for subduing out-of-control suspects. The point of the device is to shock a subject’s muscles, causing him or her to collapse.The strong electric shock administered through a Taser, however, has proven to be fatal in some cases, causing cardiac and sudden death.
In the aftermath of dozens of Taser-related personal injury and wrongful death claims surfacing this year, five police departments in Texas announced last week that they are banning the use of stun guns.
Police departments, individual officers, and Taser International, which manufacturers the weapons, have all been named in Taser-related lawsuits this year.
Whether the liability for serious injuries and deaths caused by Tasers lies with police or Taser International, or both, is a complicated issue.
Amnesty International has reported that 500 people died in the U.S. after being shocked by a Taser in the previous 13 years, and many of these cases are linked to excessive police force. The New York Civil Liberties Union has also reported police abuse of Tasers.
However, it has been suggested that even when a Taser is used properly, adverse events can occur. In 2009, Taser International even added a warning to its product – telling police not to aim them at a subject’s chest.
When a product – even a product that is meant to cause some harm – results in an adverse effect leading to injuries or even death,the maker of that product may be subject to liability. Taser Internationahas been held accountable for this in the past.
Those who are injured by Tasers, or who suffer at the hands of police due to excessive force, here in New York may benefit from talking to a personal injury and police brutality attorney about their rights.
Source: CBS DFW, “Local Police Department Discontinues Use of Tasers,” Sept. 21, 2013
Source: northjersey.com, “Stun-gun control: Strict N.J. policy aims to curb unnecessary, or dangerous, use,” Rebecca Baker, Sept. 20, 2013