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Monday, March 23, 2009

Taser Committee Holds Meeting Discussing Importance Of Weapon

March 23, 2009

PITTSBURGH -- The Taser Working Group -- top representatives from law enforcement and medicine -- appeared inside Pittsburgh City Council's chambers Monday morning with hopes of answering just how important the devices are to law enforcement.

"What are the risks involved? Is it appropriate at all to use these new devices?" said group chairman Justice Ralph Cappy.

Doctors at the hearing said medicine has never proved that a Taser has killed anyone or led to a death.

Instead, they said it's usually a medical condition known as "excited delirium," often brought on by illegal drugs.

"Why do people get tased and then die in this state? Well, I argue again excited delirium is likely part of that, which is separate from the use of force that we're talking about," said Dr. Joe Suyuma of UPMC Presbyterian.

Doctors testified that Tasers are often safer because it's usually less than the amount of force it may take to subdue someone and as a result, less chance of injury.

Monday's hearing was the fourth in a series of five the working group will hear.

They expect to make a recommendation to the district attorney in late spring.

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