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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

New Zealand: 13% (THIRTEEN PERCENT!!) of tasers prove ineffective

Police trained in what to do when Taser fails

July 20, 2010
By IAN STEWARD - The Dominion Post

Police are trained to manually insert Taser probes if firing them into a target fails, national headquarters says.

Auckland police shot a man after a Taser proved ineffective on Sunday night, but police have not confirmed if a "stun drive", as the manual application is known, was attempted.

The 38-year-old was still in hospital yesterday having undergone surgery for bullet wounds to his arm, hand and abdomen.

Police were still investigating whether the man fired the air rifle he pointed at police, a spokeswoman said.

Forensic specialists, including ballistic experts, searched the scene in Nikau St, New Lynn, yesterday.

Police said they still did not know how many shots they fired or how many hit the man.

Superintendent Bill Searle said police could not be certain of the number until interviews and ballistic examinations were completed.

Superintendent John Rivers said it was "the nature of the business" that Tasers sometimes failed.

Six of 46 Taser firings have failed since their trial and roll-out, including two in the past eight days. Mr Rivers said all six related to a failure of one or both of the electrified probes from the Taser lodging in the target.

"Staff are trained to manage that. If they are in close quarters, they can do a stun drive."

Taser implementation team member Senior Sergeant Paddy Hannon said a "stun drive" or "contact stun" involved an officer taking one of the unconnected probes and pressing it on to the skin of the target.

The probes had to be a certain distance apart to provoke "neuro-muscular incapacitation" – sending the target into spasms – or they could placed close together to induce "pain compliance", he said.

Mr Rivers said the latest medical oversight report covered seven Taser discharges.

Three had resulted in secondary injuries when people suffered "bumps and bruises" from falling down.

Positive outcomes from the Taser, including cases where people had been successfully stunned to prevent them harming themselves, were sometimes ignored, he said.

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