New Scientist reports on a study that shows that “[u]sing a Taser to subdue a violent suspect is safer than police batons and fists.”
The team examined over 24,000 cases where police had used force, including almost 5500 incidents involving a Taser. After controlling for factors such as the amount of resistance shown by the suspect, they found that Taser use reduced the overall risk of injury by 65 per cent.
Despite the cases of deaths and serious injuries from Tasers, I have no doubt of the conclusion here: beatings are obviously likely to cause injury or death also, and are probably harder to keep under control.
But the key phrase here is “to subdue a violent suspect.” Not to coerce an uncooperative person. Not to quiet someone who’s being loud or boorish. And certainly not to punish someone who has, well, you know, just annoyed the officer, nor because the officer can’t figure out how to non-violently subdue a ten-year-old girl.
We see Tasers used over and over for those other purposes, purposes for which they aren’t meant. I would hate to see someone read an article about this study and conclude that such uses are, therefore, justified.