The death of a Fort Worth, Tx., man after being shot with an electrified dart this week has recharged debate about the safety of the increasingly popular stun guns, reports the Houston Chronicle. Promotedas a life-saving alternative to deadly force, Tasers are used by 300 law enforcement agencieds in Texas. The sudden death of Robert Guerrero, 21, on Tuesday is the state’s third that occurred in police custody after the use of a stun gun.
The incident did not shake Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt’s conviction that his pending order for $4.7 million in Tasers will help save lives, not end them. “Tasers give officers another option besides their handguns when they are confronted by someone with a weapon other than a gun or by someone who is mentally ill,” he said. Nationally, more than 70 fatal incidents involving Tasers have been reported, said Ed Jackson of Amnesty International USA. However, a 2004 Arizona Republic review of autopsy reports for people who died nationwide after being stunned showed that medical examiners mentioned Tasers as a factor in only five deaths.