Two men died in separate incidents over the weekend after police used Taser stun guns on them.
A 45-year-old man died after Fort Pierce, Florida, police used a Taser to subdue him while trying to apply leg restraints in the back of a patrol car on Saturday. Douglas John Ilten of Nashville, Tennessee, died after he was stopped for acting erratically and hurling musical instruments out of a rental truck at a gas station, authorities said.
Fort Pierce police said Ilten struggled with an officer, who handcuffed him and put him in the back of a patrol car. The officer and his partner then decided to put on leg restraints before searching Ilten, but he continued to struggle. One of the cops used two bursts from a Taser to subdue him, and a few minutes later they noticed the man was not breathing. They tried to revive him with CPR but were unable to do so.
In New York on Sunday, an emotionally disturbed man died after police were called to his home in Queens and tried to subdue him with a Taser following a struggle. Media reports said Blondel Lassegue, 38, went into cardiac arrest after the confrontation that led police to use the stun gun.
Scottsdale, Arizona-based Taser International says 30 different wrongful death or injury lawsuits related to use of its products have been dismissed in recent years, and claims it has not lost any product liability suit. Tasers deliver a 50,000-volt jolt of electricity when applied.
Taser said on Friday it would introduce its new product line aimed at "personal protection" at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Monday. The company hopes the latest version will expand sales, as it currently sells mostly to the military and police. The company had a civilian model out in 2004, but many states banned them or required background checks.
The new gun is designed to make it easier for consumers to comply with state laws and buy the devices, as it cannot be activated until the buyer completes a process known as SureCheck, an online background check that can be done in about a minute.