Despite the controversy over Tasers, Oklahoma City police are increasingly relying on them to avoid putting themselves at risk when suspects resist, The Oklahoman reports. The May 19 death of a woman who died outside a rescue mission after she was shocked twice with the Taser added fuel to the controversy. The state medical examiner said the woman had cocaine in her system and died of “excited delirium” brought on by the drug and the struggle with officers.
Police Chief Bill Citty said the Taser is popular with officers because it helps them avoid physical confrontations. In many cases, officers can get violent suspects to comply without laying hands on them. Officers used Tasers 277 times from June 1, 2004, to May 31, 2007. In about half of those cases, officers only touched the Taser’s probes to the skin of the suspect, meaning they got a shock, but not the full effect of the Taser. The rest of the time, officers fired the probes at the suspects and shocked them. Police said sometimes simply displaying the Taser will convince a suspect to comply. Citty said it is especially effective when dealing with mentally ill suspects or those under the influence of drugs.