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The Roundup

OKC is Taser Death Capital of the U.S.

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Posted 02.27.12

According to a new report by Amnesty International, the Oklahoma City Police Department is responsible for more Taser-related deaths than any other law enforcement agency in the U.S. Seven people have died at the hands of OKCPD Taser-wielding officers since 2001.

Image courtesy flickr user J. Star.

Amnesty International released the data in conjunction with a recommendation for stricter limits on police use of the weapon after a man in Georgia died as a result of being shocked. His death marked the 500th fatality caused by a Taser in the U.S.

According to a press release issued Feb. 15:

According to data collected by Amnesty International, at least 500 people in the United States have died since 2001 after being shocked with Tasers either during their arrest or while in jail. Amnesty International recorded the largest number of deaths following the use of Tasers in California (92), followed by Florida (65), and Texas (37). The Oklahoma City Police Department led all law enforcement agencies in deaths (7) following by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police, Harris County Sheriff’s (Tx), Phoenix, Az and San Jose, Ca., all with six deaths.

Amnesty International contends that “dozens, possibly scores” of those deaths were a result of unnecessary force. In 2008, Amnesty International reviewed hundreds of deaths caused by Tasers, including 98 autopsy reports, and concluded that 90 percent of the victims were unarmed and “many” had been “subjected to multiple shocks.”

“Most of the deaths have been attributed to other causes,” Amnesty International reported. “However, medical examiners have listed Tasers as a cause or contributing factor in more than 60 deaths, and in a number of other cases the exact cause of death is unknown.”

“Even if deaths directly from Taser shocks are relatively rare, adverse effects can happen very quickly, without warning, and be impossible to reverse,” said Susan Lee, Americas program director at Amnesty International.

The organization called for “strict national guidelines” on police use of Tasers and other stun weapons to replace the “thousands of individual policies now followed by state and local agencies.”

“What is most disturbing about the police use of Tasers is that the majority of those who later died were not a serious threat when they were shocked by police,” said Lee.

Special thanks to Denver Nicks for alerting This Land to this story.

Holly Wall, News Editor