The U.S. Justice Department is reviewing the deaths of up to 180 people who died after law enforcement officers used stun guns or other shock devices to subdue them, reports USA Today. “These deaths raise a question in our mind that should be examined,” said Glenn Schmitt, acting director of the National Institute of Justice. The review will initially focus on 30 deaths, including one from two decades ago. Most of the deaths occurred within the past four years, corresponding with the mass deployment of stun guns to police departments across the nation. Several departments have re-evaluated their use of the weapons because of the fatal incidents.
More than 80 deaths since 1999 were identified in a recent analysis by The Arizona Republic. Amnesty International has identified more than 150 deaths since 2001. Taser International, the nation’s largest maker of stun guns, has supplied more than 130,000 devices to about 7,000 of the nation’s 16,000 police agencies. The company says its products are safe and have saved the lives of police officers and suspects. The Justice Department review, which could take two years, was proposed after law enforcement authorities expressed concern about the increasing numbers of deaths after stun guns were used to incapacitate suspects. The review will enlist the help of the National Association of Medical Examiners, the American College of Pathologists, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.