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Amnesty International USA
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NOVEMBER 17, 2004
2:46 PM
CONTACT: Amnesty International USA 
Edward Jackson of Amnesty International 202-544-0200 ext. 302
202-251-3894 mobile
 
Police Must Stop Using TASERs on Children, the Elderly, and Persons With Disabilities
Amnesty Report Documents Use of TASERs by US Law Enforcement that Could Constitute Ill-Treatment and Torture
 

WASHINGTON -- November 17 -- News Advisory: Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) will release a report examining the use of TASER electroshock weapons by police in the United States on Tuesday, Nov. 30, which concludes that the rampant proliferation of TASER electroshock weapons among United States law enforcement agencies is contributing to widespread human rights abuses. The 93-page report, Excessive and Lethal Force?: Deaths and Ill-treatment Involving Police Use of TASERs, also finds that the widespread use of TASERs has dangerously expanded the boundaries of "acceptable" levels of force.

Amnesty International is calling on the manufacturers of electroshock weapons to warn police departments not to use TASERs on vulnerable, nonviolent populations, as even a consultant for the largest supplier of TASERs to law enforcement admits risk. According to Dr. Anthony Bleetman, who consults for Taser International, Inc., "Elderly subjects and those with pre-existing heart disease are perhaps at an increased risk of cardiac complications and death following exposure to large quantities of electrical energy."(note 1) Although Dr. Bleetman maintains that TASERs are safe, in the same report he also stated, "The risk of harm might well be higher for using these devices on patients with pre-existing heart and neurological diseases."(note 2)

TASERs are marketed as an alternative to lethal force, but Amnesty International has found that in the overwhelming majority of cases police departments are using the weapons in situations that would never require the use of a handgun. Recently, there have been a number of high profile cases involving children, the elderly and persons with disabilities who have been subjected to 50,000 Volt shocks from TASERs.

Amnesty International maintains that the use of TASERs should be suspended until it can be independently proven that the weapons do not kill people.

REPORT RELEASE: Excessive and Lethal Force?: Deaths and Ill-treatment Involving Police Use of TASERs -- Tuesday, Nov. 30 at 12:01 a.m. EST

For embargoed media materials or to schedule and interview, please call 202-544-0200 ext. 302.

(note 1) http://www.taser.com/documents/ UK_Review percent20_Bleetman.pdf

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