Houston police say they zapped Fred Weary, an offensive lineman for the Houston Texans, with a Taser because he was “verbally combative” and did not put his hands on his car when ordered, says the Los Angeles Times. Weary says he followed instructions. The case has brought attention to the fact that nearly two-thirds of those shocked with the high-voltage weapons over the last two years were black. An outcry from black community activists and a City Council member has led Mayor Bill White to call for an independent review of police Taser use.
Houston officers are permitted to use Tasers any time they feel physically threatened by a suspect. Every such use is then reviewed by top department brass. Since the city began using the weapons in December 2004, no one has been seriously injured by an electrical jolt, the department says. African Americans make up about 23 percent of Houston’s population but they account for about half of the arrests in the city. Critics say Tasers are used too often – particularly against black suspects – and that those who were shocked often did not pose a serious threat. A judge has dismissed charges that Weary, 29, resisted arrest.