The standard Taser X26 exposure cycle in controlling agitated or combative subjects is an initial five-second discharge, with subsequent five-second cycles as deemed necessary.
A new report in the Journal of Forensic Sciences suggests that much longer continuous exposure may, in fact, be safe physiologically.
In a study conducted at Pennsylvania State University, scientists subjected anesthetized pigs to continuous shocking up to 30 minutes’ duration from a research model X26 . (Pigs are commonly used as surrogates in CEW research because of their similarities with humans in skin and cardiovascular systems.)
All the animals tested survived an uninterrupted exposure lasting three minutes, with the current crossing the thorax and abdomen. Seventy per cent were still alive after an exposure lasting 10 minutes, and 3/5 of those subjected to the full half-hour ride endured it, with no deaths occurring after the Tasing stopped.
Exactly why some pigs died could not be pinpointed, the research team concluded, but no deaths appeared to result from electrocution or heart arrhythmia. Further testing is required to determine why “animals that handle stress well” tend to survive and those that don’t, don’t.
In its report, the research team notes that “it is not clear” whether the current Taser CEW standard of intermittent applications is really “the best way to control agitated subjects under difficult and complex scenarios.” In some cases, “there may be potential requirements for longer duration incapacitation [to] allow military or law enforcement officers more time to bring [a] subject under control.”
This study, the first of its kind in attempting to identify the risk of serious injury or death from extreme prolonged CEW exposure, is considered “an important prerequisite” for potentially developing revised “safety margins and risk assessment tools.”
An abstract of the study can be accessed free of charge by clicking here.
[Our thanks to Atty. Michael Brave, president of LAAW International, LLC, and a counsel to Taser International, Inc., for bringing this study to our attention. Also please note that there are now 370 summaries and 469 case citations in a database on Taser-related litigation maintained and continually updated by Americans for Effective Law Enforcement. This valuable resource can be accessed without charge at: www.aele.org/law/Digests/ECWcases.html.]