The number of people who have died in the U.S. after being shocked by police stun guns is growing rapidly, asserts Amnesty International, which lists 156 in the past five years, according to the Associated Press. Deaths after the use of Taser stun guns have risen from three in 2001 to 61 last year, said Amnesty. Fourteen have died so far this year.
The increase in deaths accompanies a rise in the number of U.S. law enforcement agencies employing devices made by Taser International of Scottsdale, Az. About 1,000 of the nation’s 18,000 police agencies used Tasers in 2001; more than 7,000 departments had them last year, said a government study. Police had used Tasers more than 70,000 times as of last year, Congress’ Government Accountability Office said. Amnesty has urged police departments to suspend use of Tasers pending more study. The group said there has been insufficient independent research on safety issues, which the company disputes.