Tasers have helped Louisville police officers defend themselves and save the lives of people threatening suicide. Officers also have used the weapons in dozens of situations in which neither they nor others appeared to be at risk, reports the Louisville Courier Journal. A Courier-Journal analysis of 344 incidents in which officers used Tasers since the department acquired them two years ago found that the weapons often were used against people trying to run away, often after such minor crimes as shoplifting. The review also found: Tasers were used 55 times against people for “verbal non-compliance,” in which the subject showed no “active aggression” toward police. Only 18 people shocked were armed, and at least 35 were jolted at least three times — despite manufacturer warnings that multiple hits can be dangerous. Tasers were used against 15 people who had been handcuffed, and against 11 juveniles.
The newspaper examined police Taser use after a Sept. 5 incident in which a 52-year-old ex-Marine died minutes after an officer jolted him up to three times. Louisville police Chief Robert White has said that if the Taser is found to have caused the man’s death, the department will re-evaluate the device’s use. “How do you measure how many people didn’t die because of its use?” asked an official. Police have fatally shot two people since they bought Tasers two years ago. In the six years before that, police fatally shot a dozen people.