According to analysis by The Associate Press, Connecticut police are much more likely to use their stun guns against black and Hispanic suspects than against white ones.
The AP used data submitted to the state by the police officers, who have been required to report and detail each time they've used or threatened to use a stun gun since a 2014 law was instated. That law was passed after 26-year-old Marcus Brown died in police custody after he was shot with a stun gun, surfacing concerns concerns Connecticut cops overuse stuns. Connecticut is the first state to have such a law.
According to the AP, 641 incidents were recorded in 2015 (the figure excludes some small towns that haven't turned in reports yet). Of those, 204 were threats, and 437 included the firing of the stun gun. There was a marked difference between how the officers reacted to minority suspects. From The Associated Press:
Officers were more likely to hold their fire when the suspect was white. They fired their stun guns 60 percent of the time in confrontations involving whites, 80 percent of the time in those involving blacks and 69 percent of the time in those involving Hispanics.
The numbers also reveal how disproportionately Connecticut's black residents are pegged as suspects by police: the state is 81% white, but white people only make up a slightly larger percentage of those involved in stun gun incidents than black or hispanic people. Again, the AP:
Of those who were shocked with stun guns in Connecticut in 2015, 43 percent were white, 35 percent black and 21 percent Hispanic. Thirty percent of the people involved in the more than 600 incidents studied were black and 21 percent were Hispanic.
The AP's report is preliminary; a more detailed examination from Central Connecticut State University is likely to come out in a few weeks.
Though stun guns are generally considered to be non-lethal, Tasers can sometimes be deployed fatally. In November, the Guardian reported that Tasers were used in nearly half of the reported cases of police-involved death, and that 40% of the victims in these cases were black.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.