back to article Tasers can be instrument of torture, says UN

The UN's Committee Against Torture has declared that Taser use can constitute a form of torture, contrary to the UN's convention against the same. The committee last Friday delivered its verdict after examining the Portuguese police force's adoption of the TaserX26, described as a weapon with "proven risks of harm or death" by …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    One has to ask...

    Would they still have died of the 'OTHER' cause had they not been tasered????

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    "The second fatality occured on 20 November after an unidentified man "crashed a car into a parked sport utility vehicle and then tried to enter an occupied home", police later said. During a violent altercation with officers in the middle of the street, the man was tasered up to three times, according to witnesses."

    Part of me wonders why they didn't shoot him - and in this case the alternative to tasering would surely be truncheons about the head, which must hurt.

  3. Alan White

    'earmark symptoms of excited delirium'

    Of course, the companies own website states that there's an increased risk of death with 'application' on people suffering from excited delirium (in itself not a recognised condition).... and yet the Canadian police apparently advise use of Tasers to calm down said people.

  4. Spoonguard
    Paris Hilton

    excited delirium

    Funny how the only cause of excited delirium is police custody.

    Excited delirium is the new Hysteria

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Unsubstantiated? False? Really?

    Taser International is losing their grip on reality. Their devices are anything but low-energy. Perhaps their marketing and PR droids should experience Taser sessions, consisting of multiple shocks for several seconds each at the maximum setting (if there is one), before they describe their devices as low-energy. Low-current is more like reality.

    Evidently the forces in question do NOT follow Taser's advice that "prolonged or continuous exposure(s) to the TASER device’s electrical charge may lead to medical risks such as cumulative exhaustion and breathing impairment". (source: Taser International - Product Warnings)

    Thanks to Taser's design decisions, there is no automatic stop on a Taser. I quote: "Because there is no automatic stop on a taser gun, many officers have used it repeatedly or for a prolonged period of time, thus potentially contributing to suspects’ injuries or death." (source: Amnesty International).


  6. jim

    What a load of Bo**ox

    Well the company rep would say that. God help his company if Taser guns were outlawed. The company would go bust overnight.

    Oh and dropping dead immediately from electric shock. I don't think so. The electric chair can prove that theory wrong and that uses massive amounts of energy.

  7. Jim

    Is it just me but...

    Isn't the point of the TASER that it quickly subdues the victim so that more violent methods are not required? And yet the article is full of statements that the TASER was used repeatedly as the vic was not responding to the treatment'.

    "The Taser did not stop him from fighting."

    Even the manufacturer makes this point.

    "His continuing struggle is proof that the TASER device was not the cause of his death."

    So what are TASERs for exactly?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture


    Any police force that actually bothers to train its officers in "minimum force" use of short staves will teach an escalation of strikes, starting on the upper legs and arms, moving to the body if that does not attain compliance, lower arms and legs, then joint shots and finally, and most dangerously, to the point of "you really ought to be shooting him now" dangeous, blows to the head.

    A decent side-handled baton well used should be able to subdue pretty much anyone without breaking any bones or even ever striking to the head. But that sort of skill requires training that most cash-strapped police services can't or won't provide.

  9. Electro Boy

    Speaking of made up ailments.....

    Excited delirium.....what about people with Restless Leg Syndrome??

    Are THEY safe?

  10. Dan

    Legal action

    So have the Reg received anything like a scarygram from Taser intl?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, its better than the alternative.

    Remember that often when a police officer has to use one of these things, its in place of the use of a firearm, which i would have thought FAR more likely to cause death. Yes there may be an increased risk of death to the person on the receiving end, but when used in juistifiable circumstances, its a far better alternative to being shot.

    If someone is taking off from the police, especially in America, then they are activly making the decision to allow themselves to be tasered should the local police forces be carrying them. If he really didnt want to get shot, then he should just stay where he is and do as he is told. Stop making the police the 'bad guy' when they are out putting their lives at risk to protect you!

    The use of a taser for torture however, is outside of what i would call a justifiable use, torture by any means should not be allowed, it gets you answers, but possibally ones which cannot be substanciated (IRAQ WMD's anyone?!)

  12. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    I have to wonder

    Why do people insist on resisting Police force when they are under official scrutiny ? Running away from the cops has always been a very clear "I'm guilty" signal, and I would think, given the recent history of killings, that being pulled over by an officer is a time to stick your hands in view and not move a muscle for fear of being shot in the head a dozen times.

    If you are guilty, I would also suspect that spending some time in jail - where there is, after all, a rather good chance of survival - is better than trying to resist or legging it, options which now have a fair chance of getting you a heart attack or a dozen slugs to the upper body regions.

    If I ever go back to the US (or the UK for that matter) and some cop starts yelling at me, I'll be splayed on the floor faster than you can blink and I'll just start praying that he isn't too highly agitated to take his gun out and shoot me anyway.

  13. Bad Beaver


    I can very well understand people trying to defend their product. They might even have a point – to a point. Nevertheless, if you shoot someone in the leg with a gun, and that person has a prior condition for cardiac arrest or whatnot, it is still the application of the gun triggering the fatality. Also, if you frivolously shoot someone who has no condition in arm, leg & shoulder "because he was still moving" he might as well die from the injuries even if every single shot by itself had not been fatal. The same concept applies to the Taser. The whole idea of the devices being "less than lethal" leads to airy and arbitrary use by the "authorities". Whenever I see one of the disgusting videos showing people being zapped, they are almost always zapped at least twice. So either the product itself is ineffective at its regular single discharge settings, or the person at the trigger is a sadist, or both. Whatever it is, it is objectionable.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Would you rather they just got shot?

    So tasers are causing more deaths as their usage increases.

    Big surprise? I think not.

    Any device when deployed on enough people will cause a few of them to die. You can die by being hit with one of those cool extendible batons (and people probably have)

    I think the lesson to be learned is, "if a policeman tells you to do something, you bloody well do it. And don't mouth off at him either."

    And if you look at all taser cases worldwide and ask yourself "what if the policeman had no taser but had a handgun instead", would the number of deaths be greater?

    I think they would.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's only a matter of time...

    Tasers will undoubtedly be banned in the foreseeable future. Taser is now using the tired old Tobacco industry excuses.

    If a member of the public built and used such a device on another it would result in a long stay at Her Majesty's guest house.

  16. Rick

    Don't Tase me Bro

    Must say that all of the hippies' need to get a life...Really, IF your stupid enough to get in a situation that a TASER is deployed then your dumba$$ probably needed it. Get over it people...stop with the bull$hit!!!

  17. Tom

    The important thing...

    The important thing is to work out if these recent deaths have also been drink/drugs related. Until recently I remember it being stated that you could only die from a Taser if you were on a cocktail of drugs! Is that no longer seen as true?

  18. Ben Gibson

    I still think Tasers are fine

    I just think they are been misused. Also, in the cases where the police were later lying about what happened there should be a charge, but doubt there will.

  19. Bad Beaver

    @ Tom

    Tom, no idea, but it is proven fact that if you die from being tasered, you were at least 98% guilty.

  20. adnim

    Immediate effects?

    "Cardiac arrest caused by electrical current is immediate."

    I don't think so.

    This is a long article, many of the paragraphs detail delayed injury from electrical shock.

    It seems to me that unless the above website is lying, death from electric shock can arise at some time after the initial shock due to damage caused by the shock.

    Now who should we believe, a company with a vested interest that makes tools for damaging and killing people or independent professionals?

    I wonder who is on the board of Taser International and what connections there maybe to the Whitehouse that allow the continued use of this "non-lethal" yet somewhat fatal weapon?

    Will anyone bring them to task for blatantly lying when they claim "Cardiac arrest caused by electrical current is immediate." When this just is not so?

  21. Andrew Moore

    From what I see...

    ..the Tazer has replaced adequate training of law enforcement officers. The police seem to go straight for the Taser rather than trying to access the situation and respond appropriately. There also does not seem to be any form of warning before the Taser is deployed; the BIG difference between Tazer use and use of a firearm in the same circumstances.

  22. IMVHO

    I'm gonna put my hand up to say a little something...

    ...and please don't taser me if you don't agree!

    "The company would go bust overnight." I disagree. They just got a wringing endorsement as a device of torture from the UN. You can't buy that type of quality marketing! Folks who work in dank little cells all over the world will be scrambling to get their latex-gloved hands on one (perhaps smashing the recent iPhone sales figures; oh, new idea; the iTaser).

    "if a policeman tells you to do something, you bloody well do it. And don't mouth off at him either." I agree that innocent, sane, calm, folks should do exactly that. It's the course that is most likely to get one out of a speeding ticket, after-all. However, there are circumstances such thtat innocent, almost sane, not at all calm folks, do exactly the opposite.

    In my very humble opinion, there are two contentious issues/questions. When should these weapons be deployed (a judgment call, under stress, which can be guided by solid training), and how should these weapons be used (ooops, there's that 'training' thing again).

    I think that a good start on answering the question of 'should I fry this person?' is 'what will happen if I don't fry this person?'. I think that the answer to that in the case of the Vancouver airport incident is along the lines of 'not much, other than that we'll have to stand here and keep an eye on this guy until someone who can talk to him is found, or we somehow get through to him'. Or perhaps it was 'Oh my, he's gonna hurt that stapler! Let him have it, laddies!'. After hitting a person once, the process should be repeated. As-in, 'okay, he's writhing on the floor... he looks like a funny fish doing the chicken dance, and I don't wanna jump on his neck just yet, so I'll let him flop for a little bit and exhaust himself.' Contrast that with 'hmmm, on the ground; check! Are we able to cuff him yet; nope. Do I have a 2 o'clock at the manicurist; check! Decision; Let him have it again, laddies, these nails are not fit for public consumption!'

  23. TeeCee Gold badge


    Can it possibly be any more horrific than the Soft Cushions or, dare I say it, the Comfy Chair?

    The red cloak and hat please.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No "can be" about it ...

    In pretty well every reported case where a taser has been used, it HAS been used as an instrument of torture and NOT as an instrument of defence.

    Which is precisely why each taser should be able to fire a bullet only once and adminster only ONE charge to the innocent victim -- until the taser is returned to the depot for the operator to be severely admonished before re-arming it.

  25. Tawakalna
    Paris Hilton

    really, don't tase me bro

    "Must say that all of the hippies' need to get a life..."

    nice to see that the warm milk of human kindness can still be found. Don't use the term life quite so glibly when people have needlessly lost theirs.

    "Really, IF your stupid enough to get in a situation that a TASER is deployed then your dumba$$ probably needed it. "

    hmm, good job you qualified that with "probably" - I'll just mention the name Nicolas Gaubert, then you can google it and see for yourself if he "probably" needed it *cough* diabetic *cough*

    You see, the point is that that the cops increasingly deploy and use their tasers instead of dealing with a situation and defusing it, or even properly assessing the situation. It's become a weapon of first choice, not a *non-lethal* alternative to a firearm. If all cops are paid to do is pull out guns or tasers and shoot people, then any gung-ho macho fool can do that; the best policemen should never have to resort to their firearms or tasers unless they really have to

    "Get over it people...stop with the bull$hit!!!"

    somehow I don't think that the dead people and their families will be getting over it any time soon. And stop swearing.

    I love Paris in the springtime, even though it's winter.

  26. Murray Pearson

    I was threatened by a Taser....

    .....because my ex-wife's father, who has a history of pedophilia, was interfering with my visitation with my daughters, and he hit me with his car; but since he had a cell phone and I did not the first indication the cops had arrived was the Taser pressed against my spine. At the time, November 2004, I was seriously ill (two weeks later I would be admitted to hospital for an ailment that would prove almost lethal) and discharging the weapon would undoubtedly have killed me on the spot. The cops made no effort whatsoever to determine my side of the story. Instead, they handcuffed me and let that fücking pedo leave, unquestioned, with my daughters.

    So, how, exactly, did I "earn" that treatment?

  27. Trevor Watt

    @ those who say it is an alternative to shooting

    It is no alternative to shooting, an officer may only shoot if life is endangered, crooks running away do not get shot in the back etc, and the RCMP example the taser was used as an easy alternative to talking to the guy.

    Tasers are bing used far beyond the simple non-lethal alternative to a firearm they were sold and accepted as being.

  28. Tim

    No medical background

    People die from shock all the time, it's a serious condition. I'm pretty sure repeated jolts of high voltage electricity when applied liberally due to it's "safety" will cause a number of people to go into shock, the signs of which will easily be missed by people stupid enough to misuse the TASER in the first place.

    People say it's better than the alternative, but I wonder how many people which are TASERed each day would have been shot in it's place. Batons would most likely be used in it's place, and when you hit someone too hard with that atleast they'd be rushed to a hospital.

    When something seems safe people will misuse it. People don't very often unicycle on the edge of a cliff, but they're quite happy to change their stereo while going at 80mph. The unicycling sounds more dangerous but I wonder how many people each year regret changing their stereo.

    [Hidden Moral: If it seems dangerous people won't do it unless they have to, but it seems safe people will over do it, and innocent people will die as a result.]

  29. Big_Boomer Silver badge


    Yup, a great many people get Tasered in situations that do not warrant it.

    Why? Because whilst the Police are taught that it is a safer method of subduing people. What they are not taught is that people do not react to the sight of a cop aiming a Taser at them in the same way as they react to the sight of a cop pointing a gun at them.

    Anyone with any "common" sense doesn't get into that kind of situation but if somehow you do then you just do what the Police tell you and you are very unlikely to get baton-whipped, Tasered, or shot.

    I grew up in Belgium and the Police there carried Uzi's. I don't remember anyone EVER giving the Gendarmes any backchat when they were pulled for ID checks or whatever. Here in the UK it seems to be normal for idiots to start mouthing off at the Police when confronted and I've seen it in the USA too.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    erm.... bollocks!

    To the people claiming tasers are replacements for guns.... that may be how they were concieved, but thats not true anymore.

    The guy in the airport would not have been shot for being agitated and freaking out.... the area would have been cleared and he would have been taken down. Before you claim they thought he would be a terrorist, if they were worried about explosives they would have not used the taser for fear of triggering the explosives.

  31. P Jackson
    Thumb Down

    Theres plenty of examples

    where police are using tasers as a way to get people to do what they want, rather than as a defensive measure. "get out of the car or your going to be tased" for eg. Often deployed on people who can pose no significant threat, tasers should be banned immediately, which is pretty much what the UN are saying.

  32. matt


    Seems to me, the pro TASER people commenting on articles on the Reg see three different options..

    1) Taser them

    2) Let them go

    3) Shoot them

    They are obviously missing two other options:

    4) Night Stick

    5) Pepper Spray

    If your using a "less than lethal" way of subduing someone, I would say the most important criteria would be not to kill the subject. Therefore the taser should be instantly disqualified.

    Just the same as you cant use a "stinger" to stop a 3 wheel car (In UK) unless your allowed to use lethal force to stop a target. Then you shouldn't be able to TASER someone unless your allowed to use lethal force.

  33. Eddie


    I'm not a medic, and it's been a while since I was a biologist, but I'm pretty certain that getting tasered could cause a nice event termed "vagal inhibition" - basically your body gets shocked, the sympathetic nervous system starts your heart racing, adrenaline pumping, and the so you don't over do things, an inhibitory signal is sent down the vagus nerve to slow things down, and it goes a tad too far, and stops the heart.

    This is not an instant process by any means.

    Lets line up all the execs at Taser inc, and repeatedly taser them, to test the theory.

  34. Eddie

    Oh yeah, one other thing...

    I think that Ethel Rosenberg, (and others) could attest that electrocution does not cause instant cardiac arrest - I think it took 6 shocks, and smoke was curling from her hair, before she died.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tasers aren't a replacement for firearms.

    They are a replacement for the nightsticks - I'll spare calling them what they're colloquially called here in the Southern US - and other weapons designed to physically subdue you through sheer force and pain.

    I'm not about to say I'd rather be brow-beat with a giant god damn stick made of whatever hard ass material. That sucks. I've been hit with one numerous times. My fault. We were drunk and made a game out of pain tolerance.

    I've also been electrocuted. Electricians bend at the knees and lean for a reason. It's no fun. My encounter was with an MXR 10-band EQ that my friends thought would be funny to plug in while open on my work bench. I didn't notice. I thought it be time to get new friends when I jabbed a screwdriver right into the guts and fell off my bench because of the jolt.

    I would rather get the piss beat out of my ass with a giant fucking rod of pain than be shot with a power-plant in a box. Both of them can be lethal when wielded by improperly trained thickos (which most policemen are, and tarnish the rep of good officers, the few) as evidenced by a case in 2006 (I believe) where a 350lb black man on PCP died of a heart attack after having six cops drag him to the ground while beating him black and blue with nightsticks after he punched his hand straight through (!) a car's (!) front (!) windshield (!!!). He'd be dead whether it was tasers or nightsticks, I'm afraid.

    But for situations where a rational, complacent human being gets stupid or where a rational, complacent human being gets scared a simple nightstick will do. When a Texas State Trooper reaches for his stick and says "I don't think so, son" you listen if you know what's good for you. If you don't he'll have that thing across your jaw before you take a step away. For situations where a rational, complacent human being gets real stupid or where a rational, complacent human being gets real scared and for some reason immense physical pain won't incapacitate them (how I don't know) then tase them once. I've no idea where this "multiple-electrocutions must work with no ill side-effects!" mentality comes from but surely some of these idiotic cops must have a brother or friend that makes their living as an electrician that can explain why numerous high-voltage low-amperage (I believe that's what a taser is) shocks across the heart is a bad thing regardless of the perceived safety of the device. If electro-shock torture with car battery and a barrel of water is considered illegal then so should a taser be too.

    I am waiting for the first instance where someone shoots a cop that is wielding a taser and enters a defense of self-defense due to these deaths and reports. A nightstick isn't lethal unless you're being beat to within an inch of your life - literally. Curl up and you pretty much guarantee your head is well-protected and most cops simply aim for your ribs - at least that's what my cop uncle told me years ago. More effective when your victim's support structure is bruised and beaten and their lungs are beat up and it's hard to breath. I don't think such a plea will go very far - at least not in most states, maybe in Texas where we've now more (as of September) legislation guaranteeing us the right to shoot fuckers who show even the slightest hint of physical threat - but probably not even then.

    What I do welcome from these deaths and all this negative press is perhaps a bit more pressure to put personal liability on these officers for their actions. As of now it is nearly impossible for anything to ever come of any lawsuit or internal investigation against any officer - ever. The boys in blue are solid. Untouchable. I don't welcome a return to western vigilantism but I wouldn't mind if the police thought for a second before "acting a fool" because "oh, shit, like most people in the world I can be held accountable if I kill this jerk."

    Unfortunately, I doubt this will ever happen. The police look out for their own. Ask any defense attorney or prosecutor what their view of police integrity is and you won't get a very pleasing answer. It's for a reason.

    Tasers are only a tool which make it easier for the police to show their true colors. Any monkey can push a button; it's quick, it's easy, it's thoughtless. There is also a very large gray area as to where its proper application belongs. Taser deaths aren't the same as when a cop accidentally shoots an unarmed guy or a kid with a toy gun or some moron carrying a hammer; nor are they the same as when some idiot on speed dies of a heart attack when he's had the living daylights beat out of him with a nightstick. Often times tasers are used against unarmed people that are under control or well on their way to being under control or could easily be controlled with minimal risk to the officers involved. Tasers, in those situations, simply represent a seemingly infallible solution with few - if any - perceived side-effects to either the officer or the victim, and therein is the problem. If not even the makers know what the tasers intended purpose is then how is a degree-less flat foot?

    I don't know what I'd do when approached by an officer with a taser. I'd suppose that depends on whether or not he appears to be a seasoned veteran that is trying to prevent a situation from escalating or if he's some Joe Cool rookie looking to get his proverbial dick wet. I'd say that if a rookie misses tasering me then he better get his gun out faster than I do but I doubt there's any jury in the world that would find me innocent by way of self defense. After all, police power is a fallacy; the only real power is the power we give them and, at least here in America, the 50s housewife mentality of the hard-working ever-vigilant incorruptible police officer seems to have pervaded the collective psyche.

    I'm not sure how. I thought at least ten people saw Serpico.

  36. Anonymous Coward

    "Must say that all of the hippies' need to get a life."

    If you think you have all the answers... you just haven't understood the question.

    1. UN says it is torture.

    2. TASER pedallers deny scientific evidence about delayed death from electric shock.

    3. TASERers are given to non-fire arm trained police officers.

    4. any one who says they are "putting their lives at risk to protect you" is drunk on power and should be locked up for the safety of others.

    5. I've been threatened by a Wanker in a Police uniform for juggling outside a train station. (I hadn't been drinking, I wasn't busking it was completely un-provoked assault) A friend in the Police force confessed that about one in three officers joined up just so "they can act like dicks and get paid for it". If coppers ever learn how to use the cameras on their mobile phones, you will find them videoing each other happy slapping passers by and sticking it on U-tube. Remember school? Which kids joined the police force?

  37. Sillyfellow

    UN anti-torture

    well said Tawakalna. 10 points for that!

    as pointed out, it's clear that tasers won't be used just as an alternative to guns. because of their 'less-than-lethal' (sic) nature, it's far more likley to be used for just about any situation that might be deemed 'risky' for enforcement officials. besides, they know that they will get off scott-free if a fatality does occur.

    even with 4 (or more) police officers faced with one single unarmed person, they will use a taser, instead of overpowering the 'perp' because:

    a. they won't risk getting any bruises

    b. it's easier

    c. it's fun. i'm Sure anyone who shoots another with a taser gets enjoyment from the other person's sufferring, and their own 'god-like' ability to totally control another with a flick of a finger.

    d. guilty or not, carges or no, the suspect will pay in pain. just for being a suspect (or in the wrong place at the wrong time).

    e. regardless of outcome, the taser shooter will not be held accountable. ever.

    as for myself, being a law abiding citizen who will never give any law enforcemet any reason to taser me (damn, i'd be 'complying' on the ground in a flash), still stand the risk of being tasered (we all do). maybe i just don't hear a cop shouting or something...

    anyhow, if i were tasered without just cause i would SUE like heck:

    i would sue the forces on the grounds for being tortured (per UN rules).

    ok, if i really asked for it then i would just shutup and accept it, assuming i survive the experience..

  38. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Don't Tase me bro

    "Must say that all of the hippies' need to get a life...Really, IF your stupid enough to get in a situation that a TASER is deployed then your dumba$$ probably needed it. Get over it people...stop with the bull$hit!!!"

    Oh you mean like speaking out against the NWO and being against the war so should I read into your statement the following. "don't disagree with those in charge else you deserve to be tortured sorry tazered?"

    Personally I think tasering should not be deployed in such a situation but hey I think it's mad that pinning someone to the ground and shooting them 7 times in the head can be called an accident.

  39. Mark

    Re: Well, its better than the alternative.

    And similar, the problem is that tasers are not being used as the alternative to shooting with a regular bullet (which is what tasers were SUPPOSED to be used for).

    They are being used instead of nightsticks, which hurt a lot but leave marks, so you know when they've been applied inappropriately.

    Not only this, but they are being used INSTEAD of verbal methods of calming or physical restraint (see the acse of the teen student being tazered by one of four (five?) officers, each of which are bigger, stronger and better trained than the student).

    A headlock is VERY unlikely to cause death. Stern words never have.

  40. Sweep

    @ Tawakalna

    well done that man.

  41. Mark

    @ Big Boomer

    "I grew up in Belgium and the Police there carried Uzi's. I don't remember anyone EVER giving the Gendarmes any backchat when they were pulled for ID checks or whatever. Here in the UK it seems to be normal for idiots to start mouthing off at the Police when confronted and I've seen it in the USA too."

    But the police should be held to a much higher standard of probity than citizens if they are to be obeyed blindly. This would mean that abuse of power (hassling people) would see them fined or fired. Lying (I've had officers claim laws that do not exist to justify their actions) should see them fired if they do it often. Shooting without need should see them do time for murder and so on.

    However, this doesn't happen. In those cases "we are only human. when YOU don't make mistakes, then you can complain" is the response. Well, I don't get to walk around with a lethal weapon with virtual immunity. I can't kidnap people and I can't fine them. So when I have the same power as a policeman, THEN you can be considered only human.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Training, training, and more training...

    That's what police forces need. It is perfectly possible for someone to control another with very little strength. My 50-kg martial artist wife can have me (75 kg) in knots in seconds, because she did Ju-Jitsu and I didn't. Imagine what a properly trained, fit 90 kg copper could do! As long as they have the "easy" option of the Taser though, they'll use that. Just think for a sec: for the baton and/or pepper spray to be effective, you need to be 1-2 metres away tops (more like 30 cm for the spray). With a Taser you take down anyone with attitude from 5 metres, which one do you choose if you don't want bruises on your pretty face?

    I think the Taser should be used ONLY if the target is visibly armed (baseball bat, knife) or in a group (no martial art will save you from 10 drunk chavs, electrocute the wankers), and has been warned (like for firearms). In any other situation, use of a Taser should be considered as torture and the plod jailed for that.

  43. Spleen

    Don't blame Taser Int

    Taser Int are fulfilling a gap in the market. That is what a business does; that is its place in the natural order of things.

    The people to blame are the law enforcement officials who cream their uniforms over stuff like this and the governments who are either too craven to resist their demands or actively prefer a police force that has more arbitrary power. They create the demand; if there is demand, someone will inevitably fill it. If Taser Int didn't, then ElectroProd Global would. If the government didn't demand Tasers, then Taser Int would be making ice creams or something else. The government are solely responsible for any death or torture caused by Tasers, just as smokers are responsible for their lung cancer, not the tobacco company.

    It's easy to say that profiting from torture and expansion of police power is evil, but the invisible hand has no sense of morality; it is incapable of good or evil.

  44. Greg

    Re: Well, its better than the alternative.

    "Remember that often when a police officer has to use one of these things, its in place of the use of a firearm, which i would have thought FAR more likely to cause death."

    Ding ding, we have a winner!

    In Britain, where El Reg is based, Tasers are *not* going to be used in place of firearms, because our cops don't regularly carry them, because we don't shoot each other as much over here. They're just going to be *used*, not in place of anything. Got to keep all those nasty, I mean terrorists in line.

  45. Chuck Clark

    Tazer em all

    I guess we should just go back to shooting them. This will assure their deaths and is not considered torture.

    The UN is a classic example of why people that don't have any experience in real life should not make or comment on public policy.

  46. Ash

    @Low energy

    Typical spin. A 50000v 3mA burst from a taser is technically low energy (check conversions on the web, or do them yourself. Around 1-2 joules) when compared from the tens of joules from blunt impact, or hundreds of joules from high velocity firearms.

    What they DON'T tell you is that pacemaker systems, designed to mimic the function of the sinoatrial node and atrioventricular node in your heart, work on average currents of approx. 100nA (NANO amperes). There is a lot of resistance in the human body, but i'm willing to bet that these particular parts of your nervous system are PARTICULARLY fussy about the exposure to electricy you get.

    This was 10 mins on google; i'm not a doctor. Tell me if i'm talking junk.

  47. Chuck Clark

    Tazers are non lethal compared to a bullet

    If you take away the tazers then they will only have the gun left. Tazers are an option rather than the gun. There are those that have died and will die but it is still much safer than shooting them.

    As a 25 year Paramedic I prefer to see a tazed person than one that has been shot.

    And for those that think that there are other options you live in a fantasy world. Try dealing with a meth head that hasn't slept for 4 days and is extremely violent and not rational.

    The goal is to not get yourself hurt and a tazer is a way to reach out and touch someone without putting yourself in harms way.

    Sure, some people have died but that is part of the risk when people put themselves in a situation where police have to deal with it. If you don't run up against the law your chances of being tazed are ZERO.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Chuck Clark

    Funny, when I "reach out and touch someone" I usually don't send them 50000volts from 5 metres. Although that would be a cool superpower.

    Point taken about the meth head, but then I have VERY little sympathy with druggies since one threw used syringes and needles at my wife, Tase them!

    About not breaking any laws though: if I remember well, the very publicised student that got Tased at a John Kerry talk did NOT break any. He was being a dick, granted, but that's not breaking the law is it? See the points made above: if it's easy and there are no consequences (to them, of course), they'll use it. Even on you.

  49. Jason

    Police Deaths?

    I'm just curious... As all police officers (in the US at least) have to be tasered before being able to use the weapon, how many of them have died in that procedure? If that statistic is 0, does that not help lend credibility to the "excited delirium" theory? Obviously that's for correct use of the weapon, not including cases of misuse of the weapon or excessive use (operator caused deaths).

  50. Eduard Coli

    Greed over common sense

    Of course TASER International is going to claim innocence.

    Maybe TASER is non-lethal if used in controlled conditions but police are human.

    They should show more control but excitement and perhaps anger takes over and lethal doses are obviously being delivered with the TASER.

    TASER should work with police to create a safety system and provide training to try and prevent this and police should not take the easy way out and talk down a suspect rather then taking the easy way out and TASERing them.

  51. Daniel B.

    Batons kill too

    "You can die by being hit with one of those cool extendible batons (and people probably have)"

    Yes they have. About 10-12 years ago, one of those "border shoppers" (Mexicans living in border towns/cities that do their shopping in the US side) in Cielo Vista Mall got smashed to death by a cop. The reason: Dillard's was closing, and he wanted to exit the store through one of the "now closed" doors. He argued with the cop, which led to him being subdued by nightstick.

    Granted, knowing common Mexican disregard for cops it is very likely this guy was being an ass; but I wonder how good a beating he got for him to die.

    Anyway ... I don't think the Taser by itself is the problem, it is the abuse of cops using it stupidly or sadistically. And IIRC the ones that fire prongs do have a 30-second timer on them (at least the one my mom has) and it won't fire again unless you put the safety on, then back off, then fire again. So extended shocks are definitely the copper's fault.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Police Deaths

    Not heard of any deaths but there are compensation claims going through the courts regarding serious injuries sustained in taser training. Las Vegas police has even stopped officers being tazed during training on health and safety grounds.

  53. adam

    re: Police Deaths?

    Last time I checked, they are tasered ONCE. They are also healthy, and don't have any alcohol in their blood, which slows your metabolism. (Not good, if you're in a post-adrenaline metabolic crash.)

    Have each of those officers participate in a fight first, to give them some extended adrenaline exposure. Then, have them get tasered 3 times in succession, and we can start comparing apples to apples.

    PS - Have you ever noticed that, even by Taser and police department records, the ONLY reported cases of "excited delirium" occur in cases where someone has been tasered? If you were already angry, or confused, or frustrated, getting electrocuted is pretty likely to drive you into a rage rather than subduing you.

    PPS - Think before you speak next time.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Department of Information Correction

    Taser International has always been at war with Eurasia.


  55. adam
    Thumb Up

    @Tasers aren't a replacement for firearms.

    Beautiful. I couldn't have said it any better.

  56. kain preacher

    pepper spray

    YOu want torcher try pepper spray. People have died from pepper spray. Just that death from pepper spray does not seem to make the news. 5 years ago in Northern California there was a group of protesters that would not disband. The cops filled up cups with pepper spray and then swabbed the eyes of the protesters and rubbed it in their face,

  57. Charles Hammond

    Just Beat with Clubs

    Maybe it would be more humane to beat the suspect to death with a billy club or a flash light. The way I see it, if the suspects flee from the police they should have the right to shoot them in the back. I grow tired of these idiots that run from the police and then complain because the police had to subdue them. I have no patience for these criminals.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle


    Give me a spork and some rock salt over a taser, any day of the week. Or we could just subject the poor bastards to a couple of weeks of non-stop paris hilton reruns...

  59. Brian Mallon

    'Taser' = ELECTROSHOCK!

    In a country that 'doesn't torture' we have, (apart from those Abu Graib 'bad apples') electroshock devices in the hands of every half-witted 'security guard' in our Colleges, Shopping Malls, stadiums etc., to ensure we comply with their rules of acceptable behavior. Using the word 'taser' is a tacit acceptance of what would be correctly termed 'ELECTROSHOCK'. This electroshock is comprised of 50,000 volts of TORTURE. Not only torture but LETHAL torture. And for the most minor infractions imaginable. This Polish man could not find his mother at the airport because for TEN HOURS no-one would find an interpreter to HELP him. This other boy is dead because a policeman thought his radio was too loud. Could this possibly be the 'cruel and unusual punishments' outlawed by the constitution? We should stop allowing the euphemism 'taser' to be used. These 'electroshock devices' should be illegal! PERIOD.

  60. Rick Brasche

    let's get some real numbers here

    how many times each day are these things used in the UK and North America for law enforcement purposes? Of those, how many deaths? One a week? two?

    How many die from being handcuffed and choking themselves to death? I heard about that once recently.

    This the same UN, that ignores Darfur, had each member who voted against intervention in Iraq *personally* bribed in the Oil for Food scam? That spends time worrying about traction control systems in trucks for the EU?

    But it's obvious there are many insane posters here. Folks who believe cops should be cannon fodder, who were raised by their parents and a criminal loving media to hate law, order and uniform. They believe cops are either superhuman ninjas who can stop bullets and subdue criminals with magical eastern martial arts, or are stormtrooper robot nazis who are bred in clone tanks, have no family or feelings or love of life. Racists and bigots are what many are, who think tolerance of alternative lifestyles and religions means they can spew hatred towards any other class of people that has a necessary job to do that doesn't fit their anarchistic lusts.

    There are hundreds of thousands of active LEO's here and across the pond. You see verifiable @ssholery once or twice a week. The rate of selfish, arrogant and evil behavior is much higher among any of your 'favored classes" if you cared to look.

    And I observe around me, the folks with the most and worst stories about police misbehavior are all selfish people, all with a history of drugs, alcohol abuse, violence and delinquency since they were in high school or even sooner. Most of the whiners I see are white, had affluent parents, but are selfish, lazy losers who resent "cops" and "pigs" because they keep interfering with their illegal behaviors. I of course, don't expect any of the high-and-mighty anti-police forces here to stand up and admit they were (maybe still are) nasty little hooligans who deserved and earned their hatred of police based on their own actions and decisions.

    Let's face the truth here-the criminal element and those who profit from them are afraid of the Taser because a) it works and b) it will be used. They aren't afraid of guns because their legal system allies have all but eliminated the threat of a firearm being used against a criminal. Now along comes a tool they *haven't* legislated into uselessness, that tips the scale away from the crooks for the first time in decades. It sure wasn't "talking" or "working with" crooks that was effective enough to do this. Criminals are afraid, the Taser deterrent is working. So it's time for cartel lawyers, crime syndicates, and other unsavory elements to try to stop this threat to the street thugs who work provide their livelyhood.

    My only complaint to Taser-"your prices are too high". I got my Springfield XD .45 for around $600 USD. Taser's cheapest civilian model that's worth a damn is almost a grand.

    Flame icon chosen because a) I'm going against the online liberal groupthink, and b) because there's no zappy lightning icon.

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That would be some hot-shot trolling there, Rick.

    If it weren't so fucking obvious.

  62. Charles Palmer

    If only this was the case...

    The headline is very misleading if you read the original source documents.

    The problem the UN had with the Taser in Portugal is the Portuguese legal definition of torture. They define it as causing physical injury which is often not the case with the use of the Taser.

    It's blatantly obvious that the Taser could be used as a form of torture.

  63. Spleen


    If you believe anyone should ever be shot in the back, kindly get the hell out of my species. Shooting people in the back is in the same category as men physically beating women and kicking people when they're on the ground. You can spend hours justifying it, with some logical-sounding arguments, and with every word you become less and less of a human.

  64. Tawakalna
    Paris Hilton

    nice one Rick..

    "But it's obvious there are many insane posters here. Folks who believe cops should be cannon fodder, who were raised by their parents and a criminal loving media to hate law, order and uniform. They believe cops are either superhuman ninjas who can stop bullets and subdue criminals with magical eastern martial arts, or are stormtrooper robot nazis who are bred in clone tanks, have no family or feelings or love of life. Racists and bigots are what many are, who think tolerance of alternative lifestyles and religions means they can spew hatred towards any other class of people that has a necessary job to do that doesn't fit their anarchistic lusts."

    that brush you have must be very big, to tar all these people the same. I have two relatives who are serving UK police officers, my wife is a civilian police worker, my parents (both long dead now) were both of that 100% law-abiding policemen are wonderful generation, my father having been a special constable for many years, and I don't think that any of those things you claim that us *hippies* actually apply to me at all. And I certainly don't glorify criminals -ever! In fact it's an aspect of modern society that I detest (along with rap music)

    So why, oh why, Rick, do I (and other people who think like me) have to be all those things you say, when I (and they) simply don't think it's right that policemen should be allowed to get away with tasering people to death unnecessarily, and that the cops should show some responsibility when using these things and not "go in all guns blazing?" That seems a perfectly reasonable proposition to me, but apparently (according to you) it's because I was spoilt by my mummy and daddy in my priviliged life (on a council estate north of Manchester) and taught to hate police and authority, and love the criminal. You should really come to our street of a Friday night and see how much I love the criminals then.

    I usually enjoy most of the stuff that you write but you went right off the deep end there, chum. Pity you can't retract posts on El Reg. But here's a nice picture of the lovely Miss Hilton to cheer us all right up.

  65. JC

    Put 'em in prison

    That's the only place these police should be if they choose to recklessly harm others by tasering them.

    9 times out of 10, if the police had just screwed their damn heads on straight and waited a few minutes the suspect would have calmed down and realized the futility of resisting, but instead these criminals dressed as police officers decide to force a violent confrontation, then have the nerve to act as though tasering is a defense. Yes, tasering is a defence, just like shooting someone and both can be lethal or not depending on application.

    A taser is not a safe weapon, particularly because it's being used by someone without enough sense to resolve a situation without using it. Only a defense against a persuing person should justify it and yet it is typically used in pursuing the suspect instead. If there were real danager to the officer s/he'd draw a gun instead so let's just get rid of the taser so officers can't hide behind this lethal weapon with excuses anymore.

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