Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Taser Use By Louisville Police

WLKY Investigates: Taser Use By Louisville Police
Analyzes 18 Months Of Stun Gun Incidents

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- They are painful, they are effective, and they are used a lot in Louisville.

"You're seeing quite a bit of them," said Major Don Burbrink of Metro Police. "Yeah, I agree with you."

With Taser-related deaths in the United States now topping 200 -- and two deaths in Louisville after police Taser shootings – WLKY decided to take a closer look at who's getting zapped, how often, and why.

WLKY analyzed 18 months worth of incident reports involving Tasers in Louisville.

After years of protests over several controversial police shootings of black men, Louisville became one of the first large police departments in the country to fully deploy the 50,000-volt Taser.

Since they started using Tasers in 2005, they've averaged one Taser incident every two days, and as many as 239 incidents in one year.

WLKY carefully analyzed 268 Taser incidents over 18 months in Louisville, and found that while African-Americans only make up 18 percent of Louisville Metro's population, three times that number -- 54 percent of the people being shot with Tasers -- were African Americans.

Burbrink said it's not racism; it's a reflection of arrest data.

Over the same period, WLKY found blacks accounting for 45 percent of arrests, and 54 percent of Taser incidents, while whites made up 53 percent of arrests and 39 percent of Taser incidents.

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