4 in 10 victims of lethal police encounters involving Tasers were black, most unarmed: Report

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The Guardian has published a new report that examines the role Tasers play in fatal encounters with law enforcement.


So far this year, at least 964 people in the United States lost their lives after a run-in with police. Officers reportedly used Tasers or another form of electronic control weapon (ECW) during 47 of those incidents, according to The Guardian's police violence database "The Counted." That's about 5% of all police-involved deaths reported in 2015.

Journalists Oliver Laughland, Jamiles Lartney, and Ciara McCarthy obtained medical examiner rulings on 19 of the 47 cases, seven of which were declared homicides. Only one of the deaths, that of Florida man Calvin Reid, was directly attributed to the use of a Taser.

Most of the people who died following an encounter with a police officer who used a Taser were unarmed; 40% of the people who died were black. Fifty-three percent of the victims reportedly displayed "signs of intoxication." Many of the fatal encounters seem to be "in violation of national guidelines" regarding the use of ECWs by law enforcement, The Guardian says.

The Guardian launched "The Counted" earlier this year in an effort to maintain a reliable national database on police violence in the U.S. as no such database currently exists. Mapping Police Violence and The Washington Post also began operating similar databases in 2015.

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