The Chicago Police Department will not distribute more Taser stun guns to its officers while it investigates the device’s use on a man who died and a teen who was injured this week. Shares of the manufacturer of the stun guns fell 9 percent.
The department will continue to use the 200 Tasers it has now, police Superintendent Philip Cline said. “We remain confident that the use of Tasers in Chicago has made our streets, our citizens and our police safer,” he said.
The stun guns are made by Taser International Inc., whose shares fell 94 cents, or 6.5 percent, to close at $13.48 in Friday trading on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange. Its shares have fallen 60 percent from their 52-week high of $33.45 and are approaching their low of $10.27.
Touted as less lethal than other ways of subduing combative people in high-risk situations, Tasers are used by more than 7,000 law enforcement agencies worldwide, as well as the U.S. military.
The stun guns temporarily paralyze people by using two barbed darts to deliver a 50,000-volt jolt that can penetrate clothing.
But the safety of the weapons have come under fire by human rights groups as a number of deaths have been blamed, at least partially, on the devices.
Teenager remains hospitalized
Chicago police said they used the stun gun on a 54-year-old man Thursday after they were unable to restrain him as he tried to kick and bite officers. The man went into cardiac arrest and later died, fire department spokesman Larry Langford said. An autopsy is planned.
A 14-year-old boy remained in a hospital after going into cardiac arrest after the device was used on him Monday. Police had been called after the 6-foot-2, 220-pound boy attacked three state home workers and punched out security windows.
The Department of Children and Family Services has sued the city and the officer, arguing the officer used the device without knowing if it was safe on a minor and without considering what medications the boy was taking.
Cline said the two closely timed incidents “have prompted me to ask questions about the use of Taser by law enforcement.”
However, Cline said the department would investigate the two incidents before drawing any conclusions. The department has planned to give out 100 more Tasers, but Cline said he would put off deciding whether to distribute them until the investigations were complete. He offered no timetable.