The American Civil Liberties Union is asking police departments across Texas to stop using Tasers until policies and training are reviewed after a Houston man’s death last Friday, says the Houston Chronicle. Mental health patient Joel Casey, who died on his 52nd birthday after being shocked by a Taser gun while fighting with Harris County constables. Casey’s cause of death has not been determined, but deputies later learned he had a history of heart problems and hepatitis B. Local law enforcement agencies say they have no plans to stop using Tasers. They say the stun gun has proved to be a valuable tool and consider it a success.
ACLU chapters in Colorado and northern California have sought similar moratoriums, as has Amnesty International. Houston police have used Tasers about 140 times since the devices were bought in November – a rate of about one or two instances a day. The statistics have ignited a long-simmering debate about whether Tasers are safe and whether police use them too liberally. Casey was zapped once in the upper chest, but he continued fighting with the deputies. After a second jolt, Casey knocked the Taser out of a deputy’s hand. The Taser was then used a third time.