Irish Republican News · January 24, 2008
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Call to halt Taser deployment following death

The PSNI police is being urged to withdraw plans to deploy Taser guns in the North of Ireland following the death of a man in England.

The man, who had been involved in a domestic dispute in Bedford in southern England, staggered away after being shot by police with a Taser weapon. The police said that the man, who had beeen holding a knife, severely injured himself following the attack.

He subsequently died in hospital from a heart attack. It was claimed by police that the man’s injuries and death were self-inflicted.

Taser weapons deliver a 50,000 Volt shock to the human body, and can cause the body to suffer excruciating pain, paralysis, convulsions and other serious injuries.

Nationalists want PSNI chief Hugh Orde to cancel a scheme which will some members armed with Tasers, as well as regular firearms, from next month.

A North Belfast victims’ campaigner has expressed “massive fears” over the use of the weapons -- a move which he says will see “trigger happy” officers reboot a policy of aggressive policing.

With CS Spray used on an almost weekly basis in North Belfast, JJ Magee of Relatives for Justice fears the launch this week of Tasers across the north could see Taser-related Crown force killings on Irish soil.

In October and November alone four people died after being shot by the weapons in Canada and a total 18 Taser-related deaths since their introduction in 2003.

At the end of November last year, the United Nations Committee Against Torture concluded that the use of the electric pulse Taser constitutes a “form of torture” and “can provoke death”.

Mr Magee fears that their deployment to the PSNI will be a “dark and negative” step back in time and that Taser-related deaths will replace the 17 plastic bullet killings across the north throughout the height of the conflict.

Sinn Féin Policing Board member Martina Anderson called on Orde to reconsider his position on Tasers in light of the death.

“Despite our warnings that these are deadly weapons, Hugh Orde insisted on going ahead with his intention to introduce Tasers for use here and recently began a pilot scheme,” she said.

Fionna Smyth, of Amnesty International, said that although it was not clear if the use of the stun gun was directly responsible for the man’s death it has been proven that the use of tasers is potentially lethal.

“Research undertaken by Amnesty International in North America has shown 250 people have died after having been shot by a Taser.

“We would like much more robust research to be undertaken into tasers.”

The PSNI has since confirmed it intends to go ahead with pilot schemes using Tasers.

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© 2008 Irish Republican News