Taser-mounted video cameras record events

Oct. 28, 2010 at 11:39 AM

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- Officials say video cameras attached to police stun guns give officers documentation they were justified in using the device to subdue unruly suspects.

More than 2,400 law enforcement agencies have purchased 45,000 of the $400 cameras for their stun guns, USA Today reported Thursday.

The cameras automatically turn on when the Taser is removed from its holster and its safety device is released.

"Video is going to help the officer," said Cmdr. Steve Wilkinson, internal affairs investigator for the West Melbourne (Fla.) Police Department. "And if you don't record it, the kid down the street with a cellphone is going to use it."

The Taser works by shooting two darts into a subject's body, and then delivers up to 50,000 volts of disabling electricity. But the use of stun guns has been controversial because some subjects can die from the shock, the newspaper said.

Amnesty International has called for a moratorium on the use of stun guns until medical effects can be studied further. An Amnesty International official said he knows of 440 people who died after being shocked by the devices, but the claim is disputed.

"Amnesty International continues to promote a number for Taser-related deaths that is not only misleading and inaccurate, but also unsupported by medical or academic science," said Steve Tuttle, a spokesman for Arizona's Taser International, which makes the stun guns and the video cameras.

Tuttle said medical examiners found the stun guns to be a contributing factor in fewer than 50 of the deaths. About 13,000 law enforcement agencies use Tasers as an alternative to deadly force.

"In many of these cases, numerous causes, drug overdoses, pre-existing medical conditions, blunt trauma and other factors have also been listed," Tuttle said.

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