Shocking Solution: Part One

Since their introduction into law enforcement agencies all across the country, thousands of people have been shocked with tasers.

A 22-year-old man who wants to remain anonymous says he took a hit in late 2004, claiming it was one of the most painful experiences of his life. He does not want to name the law enforcement agency involved.

"I was approximately 20 feet from him and he shot me with the taser gun," he says.

A taser device uses compressed nitrogen to shoot two probes as far as 25 feet at a speed of 160 feet per second. The probes are connected to the taser gun by insulated wires. An electrical signal goes through the wires and gives the target a shock, resulting in an immediate loss of the person's ability to control their own muscles.

Dr. Natalie Radford of Tallahassee Memorial Hospital says, "A taser affects the human body by overriding the body's own muscle contractions. Your brain tells your body muscles to contract by sending electrical signals through the nervous systems to your muscles. A taser overrides that systems and tells your muscles to contract without letting you relax."

Taser International, the maker of the weapons, says tasers are safe and non-lethal, but there is growing controversy surrounding the use of the weapon, with claims coming from opponents that the tasers can be lethal.

Larry Helms Spalding of the ACLU says, “I don't think there's any question about that. Tasers are dangerous and the problem is you don't know the medical condition of the person being hit. If you are subject to heart attack or stroke, people react differently."
Medical doctors say there are studies being done back up that theory

Dr. Natalie Radford says, "If someone has an electrical problems with their heart or has underlying problems with the heart muscles itself, the taser can affect the heart muscle and cause it to beat uncontrollably or erratically or cause it to stop, so in a normal healthy person, the taser should not affect them at all, but in someone who has been doing drugs such as PCP or has an underlying medical condition that they don't know about with their heart, it could affect them."

Opponents of the shocking weapon say that more than 70 people have been killed by it, but taser proponents disagree.

Rob Reisinger of the Leon County Sheriff's Office says, "The last statistics I saw was over 70 that they would say is taser related deaths, and like I said, I don't buy it. I want to see proof."