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Amnesty response to Police Tasering a blind man mistakenly believed to be carrying a sword

Speaking in response to the reports that a police officer fired a Taser at a blind man after the officer mistook the man’s walking stick for a samurai sword, Amnesty International UK Arms Programme Director Oliver Sprague said:

“This disturbing incident illustrates why Amnesty insists that this weapon is used only in the strictest set of circumstances, which involves a threat to life or very serious injury.  It also shows that officers must undergo intensive, rigorous training which takes into account how to respond to people in vulnerable groups, including the visually impaired.

“Essential precautions must be taken before the Taser is used.  For example, a blind man is unlikely to be able to be aware of all the steps that ought to be taken before the Taser is used. For example the visual warnings like the drawing of the weapon and the red-dot deterrent, would not have been likely to have been effective.

"There must be strict Home Office guidelines outlining exactly when and in what circumstances Tasers are used.  Without these, Amnesty remains concerned that police officers are more likely to use the Taser – in circumstances where it is not needed."

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