The mechanisms of death in many arrest-related incidents are unclear. Unexplained arrest-related deaths have occurred after the use of different types of applications of force. This research represents the latest in Arrest-Related Scenarios and Real World Research Studies.
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Bozeman WP, Hauda WE, 2nd, Heck JJ, Graham DD, Jr., Martin BP, Winslow JE. Safety and injury profile of conducted electrical weapons used by law enforcement officers against criminal suspects. Ann Emerg Med. Apr 2009;53(4):480-489.
Conducted electrical weapons were used against 1,201 subjects during 36 months. One thousand one hundred twenty-five subjects (94%) were men; the median age was 30 years (range 13 to 80 years). Mild or no injuries were observed after conducted electrical weapon use in 1,198 subjects (99.75%; 95% confidence interval 99.3% to 99.9%). Of mild injuries, 83% were superficial puncture wounds from conducted electrical weapon probes. Significant injuries occurred in 3 subjects (0.25%; 95% confidence interval 0.07% to 0.7%), including 2 intracranial injuries from falls and 1 case of rhabdomyolysis. Two subjects died in police custody; medical examiners did not find conducted electrical weapon use to be causal or contributory in either case.
Ho JD, Dawes DM, Nelson RS, et al. Acidosis and catecholamine evaluation following simulated law enforcement "use of force" encounters. Acad Emerg Med. Jul 2010;17(7):e60-68.
Sixty-six subjects were enrolled; four did not complete their assigned task. One subject lost the intravenous (IV) access after completing the task and did not have data collected, and one subject only received a 5-second TASER device exposure and was excluded from the study, leaving 12 subjects in each task group. The greatest changes in acidosis markers occurred in the sprint and heavy bag groups. Catecholamines increased the most in the heavy bag group and the sprint group and increased to a lesser degree in the TASER, OC, and K-9 groups. Only the sprint group showed an increase in CK at 24 hours. There were no elevations in troponin I in any group, nor any clinically important changes in potassium.
Hall C, Public risk from tasers: Unacceptably high or low enough to accept? CJEM Vol 1, NO 1 p84
The taser is a weapon, and all weapons have risks. But in trained hands, it's also a tool, and emergency physicians are familiar with tools that have risks. To remain free from the potential for industry bias and public alarm, we need national-level research on CEWs and other force modalities. The safety of our citizens and our police officers is at stake. Now is the time.