Tasers and their 50,000-volt shocks increasingly are being used by Denver police to avoid wrestling, pushing, chasing, or negotiating, reports the Denver Post. About 90 percent of the 230 people who have been shocked by Denver police since March 2003, were not carrying weapons.
Denver police have used Tasers to stop dangerous suspects and disarm the suicidal. More often, police have used the devices to force people to obey their orders, to shortcut physical confrontations and, in several cases, to avoid having to run after a suspect, concluded to a Denver Post analysis of incident reports, court records, and citations.
Some criminal justice experts and civil rights advocates say the way police use Tasers is at times inappropriate and occasionally abusive. In at least three dozen cases, Denver police tased someone multiple times during a single incident. Officers tased at least 16 people who were already handcuffed.
One official said Tasers were not meant to replace firearms in deadly confrontations. Instead, they are used to avoid fighting. “What surprises me, and what causes alarm bells to go off in my mind, is that Tasers are being used during situations that seemingly lack a crisis,” said Joseph Sandoval, chair of Metropolitan State College’s criminal justice department. “It appears that most were the result of ‘contempt of cop.”‘
The maker of the device, Taser International in Scottsdale, Ariz., boasts that more than 4,400 law enforcement agencies – a third of the nation’s total – use its product.