Connecticut police officers last year fired stun guns at blacks and Hispanics at a higher rate than at white suspects, and warned but didn’t fire at white suspects at a higher rate than they did blacks or Hispanics, according to preliminary data from the first state to require police to document their use of stun guns. The new data come as police across the U.S. face increasing scrutiny over their use of force, after high-profile fatal shootings by officers, especially of black suspects. Although stun guns have been billed as non-lethal alternatives to guns, they have resulted in deaths, and reliable information on how police use them has been lacking.
The figures were obtained by the Associated Press. State and municipal police reported 641 incidents involving stun guns last year, including 437 actual firings and 204 threats of use. Officers fired 60 percent of the time in cases involving whites, 80 percent of the time in cases involving blacks and 69 percent of the time in cases involving Hispanics. Officers warned about firing but did not do so at white suspects 40 percent of the time, black suspects 20 percent of the time and Hispanic suspects 31 percent of the time. A 2014 law made Connecticut the first state to require all police departments to report every instance in which an officer discharges or threatens to use a stun gun. Researchers at Central Connecticut State University are reviewing the data and will submit an analysis to state officials.