Connecticut police are more likely to use stun guns on Black and Latino suspects than white ones, according to new reports.
According to The AP, although Blacks make up only 11 percent of Connecticut’s 3.6 million people, 80 percent of the cases involving stun guns were with Black suspects. The AP report also found Connecticut police were more likely to warn white people before using a Taser. The data showed officers warned, but didn’t fire, at white suspects 40 percent of the time, Black suspects 20 percent of the time and Latino suspects 31 percent of the time.
In 2014 Connecticut became the first state to mandate that police officers document all incidents involving stun guns. Although it is marketed as a non-lethal weapon, stun guns can kill if they are applied repeatedly or for long periods of time. Human rights group Amnesty International said 540 Americans were killed by stun guns from 2001 to 2012.
Connecticut police reported one death from stun gun use last year, but news reports and the American Civil Liberties Union say there were two deaths — one in Branford and the other in Hartford. The ACLU also said that Connecticut has reported a total of 17 deaths from police stun guns since 2005. Twelve of those people were minorities.
In a FOX 61 article, Norwalk Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik defended the use of stun guns.
“The officers don’t pick and choose who’s going to resist arrest or flee,” said Kulhawik, whose department issues stun guns to all of its officers. “Tasers have proven to be a less lethal method that avoids injury to the officer and the suspect. Serious injuries to suspects have dropped dramatically since the Taser became a tool.”
However David McGuire, legislative and policy director for the Connecticut ACLU, said the numbers were alarming.
“I think this data will be helpful for policy makers and police chiefs in Connecticut to get a handle on the issue,” he said.