Tasers have become an essential police tool, but how effective are they? asks American Public Media (APM). An investigation by APM finds that officers in some big cities rated Tasers as unreliable up to 40 percent of the time, and in three large departments, newer models were less effective than older ones. In 258 cases over three years, a Taser failed to subdue someone who was then shot and killed by police. The weapons are produced by Axon Enterprise Inc., which has a monopoly on the U.S. market. The company has long promoted Tasers to police as a reliable and effective alternative to guns. Over the years, Axon has claimed that Tasers are between 80 and 97 percent effective at subduing a suspect in the field.
APM Reports finds that police rate Tasers as considerably less effective. Data from some of the largest police departments show that officers rate their Tasers as effective “just a little better than a coin flip.” When Tasers fail to subdue someone, the results can be life-threatening — for police, and especially for the public. More than 250 fatal police shootings nationwide between 2015 and 2017 occurred after a Taser failed to incapacitate a suspect. In 106 of them, the suspect became more violent after receiving the electrical shock, according to a review of case files and media reports, suggesting the Taser may have made a bad situation worse.