Fifteen metropolitan Atlanta law enforcement agencies have purchased Tasers at $400 to $800 apiece, says the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Concerns about the weapons are widespread. June 4, about 100 people rallied at the Gwinnett County Justice and Administration Center to protest the death of an inmate after he was shocked with a Taser. Amnesty International says they can be used as torture devices and, after several Taser-related deaths in Georgia, called for a moratorium on their use. In the past nine months, five people in Georgia have died after being shocked with Tasers by law enforcement officers. Nationally, 26 people who were shocked with Tasers while in custody died during that period – as many as had died in the previous 4 1/2 years the guns had been in use.
The gun’s manufacturer, Taser International, says that autopsies have shown that none of the deaths has been directly caused by a Taser. The company says the guns have been used safely by law enforcement officers more than 45,000 times since 1999. “Tasers aren’t dangerous,” said Taser International spokesman Steve Tuttle. “They are just used in dangerous situations.” Because of the Georgia deaths, Macon police and the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Department have shelved their Tasers, and College Park police decided to hold off on buying any. Taser executives will meet tomorrow in Atlanta with representatives of 15 Georgia public safety agencies. They will discuss studies, done by the University of Missouri and paid for by Taser.