Tasers are becoming a part of our popular culture — look no further than examples like the hit film “The Hangover” or the Internet phenomenon of “Don’t taze me, Bro.” Yet even as we celebrate the power and omnipresence of these pocket armies, the use of Tasers by police forces such as the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department are raising a number of questions about the safety of the devices.
According to one human rights organization, in 2008 the Las Vegas police lead the nation in civilian deaths attributable to the use of Tasers (or “stun guns”) in subduing suspects. Law enforcement across the country tries to balance its priorities against charges of police brutality. Taser, an Arizona company, claims that its devices strike an ideal balance for law enforcement by equipping police officers with a nonlethal, debilitating deterrent. But the devices, which use electricity to cause muscular seizure, can deal upwards of 50,000 volts to a target and are under increasing scrutiny by safety regulators. Several Las Vegas police officers sued the Taser company after sustaining injuries during a training session using the device. One female officer fell on her face after being subjected to the device, resulting in chronic localized pain and back issues; a Taser jolt directed at the head, neck, or back can potentially cause serious brain damage and enduring neurological issues.
If trainees in using the devices have been injured, it is no surprise that civilians subjected to Tasers have also become victims. Only days ago, a Clark County man who was trying to straighten out his life after repeated stints in jail died after being Tasered “several times” by police officers trying to detain him. In another Southern Nevada case, a doctor died after he was shocked five times by a Nevada Highway Patrol officer wielding a Taser. His surviving family members are suing for emotional damages and Nevada wrongful death.
Nevada lawmakers have plenty on their plates as the new legislative session kicks off, so there is no knowing whether or not they will tackle the issue of Tasers and appropriate use of force by Nevada police officers. (Another Las Vegas [in New Mexico] banned the use of Tasers by its police force; LVMD has made no such overtures yet.) If you or a loved one have suffered a Taser or other Nevada electrocution injury, contact us today for a free consultation and experienced legal help.