Cincinnati’s police will use drug forfeiture money to purchase Tasers to subdue suspects. The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that 200 Taser X26s, at $799 each will be ordered this week. The manufacturer’s chief instructor will be in Cincinnati Friday to train officers. Meanwhile, the City Council’s Health Committee will hold a hearing today on the possible medical effects of being hit with a Taser charge; the maker says there are none. “We want to make sure everyone’s comfortable with the technology,” said Mayor Charlie Luken.
The plan is moving ahead a week after the death in police custody of Nathaniel Jones, a 41-year-old man involved in a violent struggle with six officers. The coroner ruled the death a homicide, saying Jones’ heart stopped as a result of the struggle and that cocaine, PCP, and methanol in his system contributed.
Cincinnati had stopped using Tasers because their models were old and ineffective. The city didn’t obtain new ones in 2000 when an official said the police did not need new less-than-lethal force tools. Now, Luken says the department plans to issue Tasers “as standard equipment to all officers, on the theory that any one of them could be involved in a confrontation.”
It’s not clear whether a Taser would have helped in the Jones case. A corner’s deputy said it Taser might have touched off a heart problem for Jones, because his heart already was enlarged and he suffered from high blood pressure. But Steve Tuttle of Taser International in Scottsdale, Az., said Jones is “absolutely” the type of “target” the X26 could be used on because it does not rely on pain for compliance, as do the batons officers used to hit Jones.