Volume 36, Issue 2 (March 1991)
Effects of the Taser in Fatalities Involving Police Confrontation
Sixteen deaths associated with the use of the Taser were examined. All involved young males who had a history of abuse of controlled substances; all but three were under the influence of cocaine, phencyclidine [phenylcyclohexylpiperidine (PCP)], or amphetamine. All were behaving in a bizarre or unusual fashion which necessitated calling the police. The cause of death was an overdose of drugs in eleven, gunshot wounds in three, heart disease and Taser shock in one, and an undetermined cause in one. All were considered to be under the influence of PCP by the police at the time of the incident. All were unarmed, which was the reason a Taser was used instead of a more lethal weapon. The conclusion reached after evaluation of these cases is that the Taser in and of itself does not cause death, although it may have contributed to death in one case.