First PSNI use of taser: Amnesty International response.

Patrick Corrigan of Amnesty International's Northern Ireland office stated:

“Amnesty recognises that police officers have a duty to protect themselves and others from serious life-threatening incidents, and in these situations a Taser is clearly a less-lethal alternative.

"However, while we don’t know the details of the weekend's incident, it has been noted that the man who was stunned by a Taser had mental health problems and research has shown that these electro-shock weapons pose a disproportionate risk to many of our most vulnerable citizens, including those with mental health or drug problems. As a result we welcome the Police Ombudsman's investigation.”

"People are at serious risk of injury, or in some cases death if the Taser is used without adequate safeguards. Latest figures show that more than 290 people have died after being shot by a Taser in the US and Canada since 2001 - a recent example being that of a Polish man at Vancouver airport, who also displayed signs of mental illness.

"We're worried that this could be the start of a slippery slope towards further arming of the police with Tasers.

"Because these weapons are potentially lethal, police officers must be trained to the same high standard as they are for using a firearm, receiving intensive, ongoing training to ensure that they only use these dangerous weapons in very limited circumstances."

ENDS

Notes to editors
Taser stun guns are potentially lethal electrical weapons. The pistol-shaped weapon delivers 50,000 volts of electricity into a person's body. The result is excruciatingly painful, causing a person to fall to the ground and, at times, lose control of their bodily functions.

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