- Extensive study performed by American Heart Association
- Believed to be first peer-reviewed study of linking the devices to heart trauma and death
- Tasers not subjected to regulations by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
PUBLISHED: 14:58 EST, 1 May 2012 | UPDATED: 15:51 EST, 1 May 2012
An extensive study has found that the use of Tasers, once known as ‘non-lethal’ devices can cause cardiac arrest and death.
The American Heart Association study, conducted by Dr Douglas Zipes, analysed information such as autopsy reports, medical records and police data in cases where people had lost consciousness after being shocked by the Taser X26 model.
About 334 Taser-related deaths have been reported between 2001 and 2008, according to Amnesty International.
Dr Zipes also notes that unlike guns, Tasers are not subject to regulation by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms because they don’t involve the use of gun powder.
Circulation, the AHA’s own medical journal, published the findings in what is believed to be the first peer-reviewed study linking the devices to heart trauma and death.
An evaluation of the X26 in pigs, sheep and people established that shocks to the chest caused cardiac electrical capture.
Dr Zipes believes conducted the study to raise awareness about the fact that Tasers can be dangerous.
He told the Cincinnati Enquirer: ‘The only way I felt anyone would pay attention would be an article in a respected journal by a respected cardiologist.’
The doctor added: ‘In no way am I condemning Taser. That decision must be done by law enforcement experts, not a physician. What I want people to be aware of is that there is the potential for death.’
In 2009, Taser first implied that its products may be linked to cardiac arrest when the company asked officers to refrain from aiming the weapon at a suspect’s chest.
But Taser officials contended that the advisory only meant that law-enforcement agencies could avoid controversy if officers aimed at areas other than the chest.
Critics called it a stunning reversal for the company.
Last month, gay porn star Marland Anderson, who is known as Sledge Hammer, died five days after a violent altercation with police which resulted in him being shot with a Taser.
Last year, Former Marine Kenneth Chamberlain Sr was allegedly shot by a Taser at his White Plains, New York, apartment after he had accidentally triggered his LifeAid pendant.
Chamberlain, who had also worked as a correction officer, died in a nearby hospital on November 19.
Hundreds of Taser-related deaths have been reported in recent years, and have risen due to increased use by cops and security officials.