Kevin Piskura’s heart was racing as he fought with police and staff outside a bar near Miami University in Oxford, Oh., says the Cleveland Plain Dealer. That, along with his drinking, might have put him at a higher risk of death if a Taser was used to control him. An officer fired his Taser at the 24-year-old Piskura’s chest when he refused to back off. Piskura collapsed. Five days later he died. Piskura’s death, and the deaths of hundreds of others after Taser use, has ignited an international debate over the police use of Tasers.
Until recently, studies had shown people with healthy hearts are not affected. A study published this month in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, says Tasers might stimulate the heart, especially if the barbs attach on the chest near the heart. The study cites experiments by three investigators using pigs and recommended studies using people. An editorial in the journal called for independent scientific research into whether Tasers can kill. Taser International maintains, and backs it up with scientific studies, that its weapon is safe. The company says it has not lost any product liability lawsuits.