Wake Forest U. Study Gives Green Light to Taser Use

October 08, 2007

Taser stun guns are safe and cause few serious injuries, according to a study by researchers at the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

The study examined nearly 1,000 so-called Tasings by law-enforcement agencies and found that 99.7 percent resulted in minor injuries — scrapes and bruises — or none at all, according to a statement released today by Wake Forest. Three subjects among the 1,000 required hospital stays, two of whom had fallen and hit their heads after being Tased, the statement said. Two subjects died, but neither death was related to the Taser, it said.

“These results support the safety of the devices,” William P. Bozeman, the study’s lead investigator and an associate professor of emergency medicine, said in the statement. He added that doctors’ review of each subject’s medical records makes this study more reliable than others.

Dr. Bozeman planned to present his research today at the American College of Emergency Physicians’ Research Forum, in Seattle. His study was financed by the National Institute of Justice, a research arm of the U.S. Justice Department, and Wake Forest collaborated with Louisiana State University and the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada.

Tasers have been a hot topic this fall after police officers at the University of Florida used one on a student at a public forum. Other campus police chiefs have wondered if that degree of force was warranted.

Amnesty International has lobbied against the use of Tasers, which it says are dangerous and capable of causing death or serious injury. —Sara Lipka