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Charlotte Area News

TASER Use Draws Scrutiny

http://66.225.205.104/MR20110721.mp3

A Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer used his TASER on a suspect last night and the man later died. The incident happened one day after a federal jury in Charlotte ordered a TASER manufacturer to pay $10 million to the family of a young man who died in 2008 after a CMPD officer used a TASER on him for 37 seconds. Between 2001 and 2008, more than 300 people in the U.S. died after being shocked by TASERs, according to Amnesty International. CMPD Chief Rodney Monroe told the media last night he's reviewing the department's policy for using the devices. WFAE's Mark Rumsey spoke with UNC Charlotte criminology professor Joe Kuhns about the use of TASERs in law enforcement. CMPD TASER Policy Under Review CMPD currently says TASERS should only be used if pepper spray and punching or kicking doesn't work to subdue a suspect. While TASERs are considered "non-lethal" they have contributed to several hundred deaths in the U.S. Kuhns says police may need to reconsider when TASERs are appropriate. "Should a TASER be considered more force than a baton?" askes Kuhns. "A baton can kill you. You can get hit in the head or fall down and hit your head and you can die from a baton hit or flashlight hit. So each has some potential lethal danger associated with it." CMPD's TASER policy was last updated in 2010. It requires all officers to receive special training and prohibits the use of TASERs when a suspect is not "an imminent threat to the public or officers." CMPD officers are required to call an ambulance for any suspect who is shocked by a TASER. CMPD had another high profile TASER-related death in 2008. The city settled with the teenager's family and this week a federal jury ordered the TASER manufacturer to pay his family $10 million.