Joining their fellow officers in Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk and Virginia Beach, police in Chesapeake will this summer begin carrying electronic stun guns. Touted as safer and more humane alternatives than guns and clubs to subdue violent and uncooperative suspects, the weapons known most commonly by the brand name Taser have also been linked to serious injuries and deaths.
Locally, a Hampton man who threatened police with a sword died after being shocked multiple times with a Taser. Also, officers in Norfolk were found to have used Tasers excessively and inappropriately when confronting a mentally disabled woman about playing a radio too loudly while exercising with a hula hoop in a traffic median.
The Virginia Beach Police Department prepared this video to demonstrate the effects of a stun gun:
Tasers and other stun guns work by interrupting the electrical signals from people’s brains to their muscles. Used appropriate, the weapons should not cause electrocution because they deliver high voltage but low amperage shocks. Nonetheless, numerous people hit with stun guns have lost their lives and been hospitalized with burns and other injuries.
When police in Chesapeake begin carrying Tasers, they must use them sparingly and be prepared to render lifesaving first aid to anyone who experiences more than initial pain and temporary paralysis after being shocked. While Tasers and other stun guns can be an effective law enforcement tool, they can also be dangerous when overused or used on a suspect with health problems such as heart disease or a suspect who may not fully comprehend what officers are ordering them to do.
About the Editors: The Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, whose attorneys work out of offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.