An emotionally disturbed woman was shot to death last night by a police officer even though he carried a stun gun, the New York Daily News reports. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. criticized the sergeant for failing to use the electrical weapon instead of his revolver and demanded a full investigation into the death of Deborah Danner, 66.
The sergeant’s alleged failure echoes a much larger issue: are stun guns effective? Until recently, the New York Police Department kept all so called “conducted electrical weapons” (CEWs) out of the hands of officers out of concern for previous scandals. As police departments across the U.S. began embracing stun guns on a large scale 15 years ago, the NYPD allowed only some sergeants and specially trained units to wield them. The reluctance stemmed from the department’s controversial use of an earlier version of the electrical weapon. In 1985, four officers were arrested for torturing three prisoners with handheld stun guns.