A Helena man was hospitalized Monday after being shocked with a Taser twice during a dispute with Police.
The headline to the Helena Independent Record article states it was an arrest "requiring" a Taser. No hold on a minute. Really?
It sounds like the man was acting unpredictably and violently, but whether a Taser was required is subject to opinion.
Tasers are force that should be used with the utmost of caution. In fact, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2008 that while Tasers can be categorized as "non-lethal" force, "All force - lethal or non-lethal - must be justified by the need for the specific level of force employed."
And for good reason. Tasers may be non-lethal in most cases, but they do cause deaths. The group Truth Not Tasers reports that 39 people have died this year after being shocked with conductive electrical devices. Just this past weekend, three people died after being Tased, one in Wisconsin, one in Virgina and one in Ohio at the University of Cincinnati.
All told, about 15,000 police departments in the U.S. use Tasers.
It's time that we recognize that these devices are dangerous.
UPDATE (1:15 p.m., 8/17/2011) The man tased has died.