SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Custody deaths rise rapidly when law enforcement agencies begin using stun guns and fall sharply thereafter, a California study found.
The research was done at the University of California San Francisco, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Doctors studied records from 50 agencies in the state that use Tasers, comparing death rates in the five years before they acquired stun guns and the five years afterward.
Dr. Byron Lee, a cardiologist involved in the study, said the change was far more dramatic than he expected, with death rates increasing by a factor of six. After the first year, the death rates dropped almost as sharply, leveling off at rates only a little higher than before the agency used Tasers.
"Tasers are not as safe as thought," he said. "And if they are used, they should be used with caution."
Lee said the findings suggest police departments learn in practice how to use Tasers safely. California has no statewide training standards on stun guns.