Houston's Taser Policy to Be Reviewed

An independent panel will review the Houston Police Department's Taser policy, KPRC Local 2 reported Wednesday.

Police Chief Harold Hurtt agreed to have outside, independent experts brought in to assess the policy, which has come under fire recently.

The panel will look at how officers have been using their Tasers, who they have been using them on and the health effect on suspects shot with the stun gun.

"We are open to have people with the appropriate amount of expertise to come in and look at the issues," Hurtt said.

Criticism of Taser use culminated last month when Houston Texans player Fred Weary was shot with a Taser when he was suspected of resisting arrest. The charge was later dropped.

The case reignited the issue of racial profiling. Sixty-three percent of the suspects that Houston police officers have used Tasers on are black, according to statistics.

"What I've been told by actual police officers is that it's become a substitute for judgment and patience," said state Rep. Garnett Coleman.

Coleman wants a moratorium on Taser use while the policy is studied.

"I think that's a mistake," Hurtt said.

The police chief insisted that Tasers have saved lives.

Officers were authorized to use deadly force in 39 cases where they used Tasers instead.

"I think it's a good tool. Our officers have used them to reduce injury to officers as well as to citizens on the street," Hurtt said.

But, Coleman said he is still taking the issue to the Legislature.

"It's not a matter of whether or not a Taser is an appropriate tool. It's a matter of whether it's being used appropriately," he said.

There's no word yet on when the independent review would begin.