Houston police officers use their Tasers on black people more often than any other suspects, says an audit reported by the Houston Chronicle. The report confirms trends that have roiled community controversy since the stun guns came into widespread use four years ago. The audit found that black officers used Tasers less often than Anglo or Hispanic officers, particularly in encounters with black suspects.
Among 1,400 incidents in which Houston police officers used Tasers between December 2004 and June 2007, 67 percent of the people officers shocked were black, while encounters with black suspects made up just 46 percent of all police interactions. Executive Assistant Police Chief Charles McClelland said race plays no role in Taser use. “A Taser is race neutral,” he said. “What triggers an officer’s response is a suspect’s actions.” HPD has armed most officers with the stun guns since December 2004. Auditors made recommendations to monitor Taser use better, including that police study each incident in which an officer shocks the same suspect more than four times and that it track officers who use Tasers frequently. The audit found that two officers have used their Tasers more than 13 times – far more than any other officers on the force.