A Waterbury man died earlier this month after being hit with a police stun gun. In Middletown, a state investigation recently exonerated police in the May 2010 death of a man who died following 34 shocks by a Taser weapon.
State lawmakers had been considering legislation to require standardized police training in the use of stun guns and restrictions on when and how they should be used. Opposed by the Connecticut Chiefs of Police Association (pdf), the bill has been watered down to a study of police use of Tasers by a state law enforcement training panel. The study legislation is awaiting General Assembly action.
“We were disappointed,” David McGuire, a lawyer with the Connecticut chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, says of the much weakened legislation. “But this is a step in the right direction, and we believe a study will show the need for comprehensive Taser regulation, including training and public accountability.”
McGuire spoke Monday about the Taser issue during an appearance at a Hamden rally by activists protesting what they say is police brutality in their community.
Taser International, maker of the electronic weapon that has become a police mainstay, is ferociously opposed to any suggestion that these stun guns can be lethal. Their spokesmen insist that when someone dies after being Tased, the actual cause of death is some other condition such as drug use, psychiatric- or obesity-related diseases.
Marcus Brown was 26 when he started acting strange in the emergency room of Waterbury’s Saint Mary’s Hospital during the early morning hours of May 1. Police were called and Brown was restrained and put in the back of a police cruiser.
The cops say Brown attempted to kick out the window and door of the police car, and that’s when he was hit with the Taser, went unconscious and was declared dead after being carried back into the hospital. Authorities say it could take up to six weeks to determine the cause of death.
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