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How Painful Is A Taser Hit?
Can It Kill?

                                                          by Allen R. Kates, MFAW, BCECR

                                                                          Kelly Thomas Being Tased And Beaten

Excruciating pain from a Taser

You would think that tasing Thomas once would have been enough to subdue him. The Taser sends a pulse of about 50,000 volts and a few milliamps to its target. On its standard setting, the pulse cycles for five seconds before shutting off. That five seconds sends intense signals through the nervous system, causing considerable pain and causes a contraction in the muscles. Most victims fall to the ground. The experience is like being punched every time a pulse hits.
Thomas was screaming in agony during 4 excruciating Taser hits. Perhaps the idea of limiting the number of Taser hits seems naive on my part. I read an article about a man that was hit 12 times and suffered no ill effects. Although this effective means of stopping a combative subject is one of only a few "non-lethal" tools an officer can use, Taser hits have been implicated in hundreds of deaths.

Some people have stopped breathing as a result of being tased. In the U.S., about 334 died between 2001 and 2008 after being tased, according to Amnesty International.*

*Source: www.amnesty.org, Annual Report 2012

Tasing is not as safe as many believe. It is supposed to be a non-lethal means of controlling a dangerous or aggressive person. Given the damage it can do to a person who is tased even once, was it really necessary to tase Thomas 4 times?

In the police Taser demonstrations that I watched online, the officer was not paralyzed afterwards, recovered quickly, and could stand up and interact. In real life, not everyone recovers. The purpose of the Taser hit is to incapacitate a combative individual so he can be cuffed or controlled. In the case of Thomas, along with the beating, it looks like the Taser was used to show him who was boss.


Things could have gone much differently if Ramos and Cicinelli had had training dealing with the mentally ill. Thomas might still be alive, and the officers would still be productive members of the police department.

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