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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Charlotte City Leaders Vote To Reissue Taser Guns To Police (Deadly Decision!)

CMPD: Safer Tasers will be given to officers today

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police are putting Tasers back into officers' hands today, six months after use of the weapons was suspended following the death of a 21-year-old suspect.

In September, the Charlotte City Council voted to spend $1.83 million for 1,600 Taser X2 stun guns. Police says the new Tasers have safety features to prevent officers from possibly injuring or killing suspects.

The Taser X2 will replace the model previously used by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, the X26 Taser.

The Taser X2, produced by Arizona-based Taser International, has a five-second limit on each electric charge, a function that makes the device more safe, police have said. Officers using the new Taser can also trigger a visible and audible warning that may convince suspects to comply without evening firing the weapon.

Use of the department's nearly 1,200 Taser X26 stun guns was suspended on July 21. The day before, police were called to a Lynx light rail station along Old Pineville Road after a report of a man beating and choking a woman. The suspect was identified as Lareko Williams.

The first officer to respond fired his X26 Taser just as Williams was about to strike the woman again, police said. Williams became unresponsive, police said, and the officer called for help. Williams died about an hour later.

Williams' death came only a day after a federal jury awarded $10 million to the family of Darryl Wayne Turner, the 17-year-old who died after a CMPD officer shocked him with a Taser in 2008. The jury found that Taser International failed to warn that the weapon could cause cardiac arrest. In that case, police said the officer violated policy when he shocked Turner for about 37 seconds. The city of Charlotte denied wrongdoing, but it paid $625,000 to Turner's family.

After Williams' death last summer, all of the department's Tasers were collected from officers, tested and inspected, police said. About a month later, police announced they'd finished a month-long internal review on Taser use but that officers would not carry the devices until a second, outside review was completed.

Then police examined the possibility of purchasing a newer model.

Police Chief Rodney Monroe said last year that Tasers enhance citizen safety by "giving officers a viable option to minimize injuries to themselves and others."

But the devices, which can discharge 50,000 volts to briefly incapacitate suspects, have been linked to hundreds of deaths across the country. Police in Fayetteville suspended their use of Tasers last year after a 56-year-old man died while officers tried to subdue him with one.

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Sources:, McClatchy Newspapers, WCNC, Google Maps

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