A pregnant woman, a man in a wheelchair, and a 13-year-old girl fleeing police after a rock-throwing incident were shocked with Tasers during a 19-month period that ended in July, found an Indianapolis Star review of reports on more than 1,100 instances of local Taser use. As the number of the stun guns carried by the Indianapolis Police Department quadrupled to more than 400 in the past two years, use rose sharply. The department’s leadership recently warned that the Taser, which is designed to deliver up to 50,000 volts of low-amperage electricity through a direct stun or through two barbs shot into the body from up to 21 feet away, should not be fired indiscriminately.
At least 112 unarmed suspects were Tasered while fleeing police officers or sheriff’s deputies. At least 87 people were shocked while handcuffed. Only one in 12 Tasered suspects was reported to have been armed. The Star found that blacks and Hispanics were shocked with Tasers at a far higher rate per number of residents than whites. “If not Taser, what?” asked Steve Tuttle of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Taser International, the weapon’s manufacturer. “If you’re going to incapacitate somebody, do you want to continue using batons, which is primarily a baseball bat?”