Willie Smith was high on cocaine the night he pinned his wife down and told her he wanted to get the devil out of her. Auburn, Wa., police say that when they came and tried to arrest Smith, he resisted. So officers used a Taser, subduing him with 50,000 volts of electricity. The 48-year-old man had a heart attack in the ambulance and died two days later; he was the third person in Washington to die after being shocked with a Taser. Autopsies in at least five cases nationwide found Tasers were a contributing factor in the deaths, says the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
The new Amnesty International report seeking a halt to Taser user pending more medical studies is prompting discussion in various cities. Taser International, a publicly traded company with nearly $50 million in sales this year, says the devices have never directly caused a death. A company spokesman said the firm has offered to provide funding for more medical studies using standards agreed upon with Amnesty International, but that the group has not responded. “We’re not saying Tasers kill people,” said Mike Murphy, coroner of Clark County, Nev., where two men have died after being shocked by Las Vegas police officers. “We appear to be seeing some issues that need to be addressed.”