In reality, both parts of that claim were false. People have died from Taser shocks, and far from being an "alternative" to firearms, most police Taser discharges occur in situations where shooting the suspect with a gun would not be justified under standard police policies. Today Taser has backed of the "non-lethal" claim and now markets the weapon as "less lethal," which is certainly a more accurate portrayal.
The latest Taser-caused death in Texas occurred Monday in Laredo, according to the Houston Chronicle:
Three Laredo police officers are on administrative duty pending investigation of the death of a man they shocked with a Taser gun.I generally support deployment of Tasers but I also think most departments' use of force policies allow them to be used WAAAAY too early on the so-called "use of force continuum." Tasers should never be used merely to force compliance with officer commands, particularly in a case like this where three officers were on hand to subdue the unarmed suspect. But from what I can tell, forcing compliance appears to be a primary way officers use the weapon in a large number of the reported incidents.
Police spokesman Alberto Escobedo says the three officers answered a pre-dawn criminal mischief report Monday and confronted 44-year-old Richard Battistata. That's after the man allegedly had broken a bedroom window and entered an apartment.
Escobedo says that during the confrontation Battistata turned combative and one officer used the Taser to subdue him.
Instead, Battistata became unresponsive and police called an ambulance. He died soon after arriving at Doctors Hospital.