WASHINGTON – Police use of Tasers on adolescents does not put them at higher risk for serious injury compared to adults, according to a new study by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
The study was the first to investigate the effects of Tasers on adolescents, and results showed no major differences in injury rates.
“We were looking closely for increased risk of cardiac effects and bodily injuries because of the differing body size and build,” says Alison Gardner, author of the report. “But there were no significant injuries reported for this age group.”
Gardner and her colleagues reviewed more than 2,000 police Taser incidents and found that 100 cases were against adolescents ages 13 to 17. Of the 20 injuries reported in that age group, most of them were from puncture wounds.
Researchers point out that teens in the study do not represent the average adolescent. The teens studied had an average age of 16, weighed 168 pounds and were 5 foot 8 inches tall.
“In real-life situations, Tasers were used in adolescents who were larger and older,” Garner said.
The findings suggested that police use Tasers when they need assistance gaining control of suspects.
“Tasers have been proven to reduce the risk of injury in both suspects and officers and have prevented far more injuries and deaths than they have produced,” say William Bozeman, author of a 2009 study on Taser injuries. “Tasers are clearly safer than alternate force options available to law enforcement officers.”
Police Tasers caught the public’s attention in 2007 when a video surfaced of University of Florida student Andrew Meyer who begged police not to use a Taser on him. He was arrested for disrupting a campus forum featuring Sen. John Kerry.
Watch a video of the incident below:
WTOP’s Dick Uliano and Madeline Tallman contributed to this report.Follow WTOP on Twitter.