One Taser-Related Death a Week in U.S. Since 2009

Saturday, August 10, 2013
Israel Hernandez-Llach (photo: Heather Bozzone)

Tasers were first introduced to police departments to provide officers with a non-lethal means of subduing suspects. But the electronic stun guns are proving to be very lethal, killing hundreds of people in recent years.


The blog Electronic Village has documented 190 taser-related deaths in the U.S. since 2009.


That means there has been nearly one taser-related death a week in the country since 2009. Amnesty International reported 351 individuals were shocked to death between 2001 and 2008, for a total of at least 541 Taser-related deaths in less than 12 years.


One of the most recent incidents happened in Miami Beach, where on August 7 police officer Jorge Mercado fired his stun-gun at Israel Hernandez-Llach, striking him in the chest. Mercado and other officers had been pursuing the 18-year-old graffiti artist for tagging an abandoned McDonald’s restaurant.


The Miami Herald wrote that “witnesses reported that Miami Beach police officers, who had been chasing him for about 10 minutes, celebrated trapping and Tasering him by slapping each other with high-fives as the teenager lay dying in the street” from the electric shock of the stun gun.


Mercado, a 13-year veteran of the force, was placed on paid administrative leave while the department investigates the attempted arrest.


Members of Miami’s art community condemned the tasering of Hernandez-Llach, an award-winning artist whose work had been exhibited locally and recognized by U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Florida).

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

541 Taser-Related Deaths in the United States Since 2001 (Electronic Village)

Miami Beach Cop put on Leave after Death of Tasered Teen (by Julie K. Brown, Miami Herald)

Seeking Answers After Youth’s Death in Police Stop (by Nick Madigan and Lizette Alvarez, New York Times)

90% of Taser Death Victims are Unarmed (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)

Tasered 86-Year-Old Wins Excessive Force Trial (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


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