On Tuesday, a man from San Angelo, Texas died after pouring gasoline on himself and then catching fire after being stunned with a police officer’s taser gun. Juan Flores Lopez, 47, was a suicidal man who kept threatening to light himself on fire due to being distraught over his looming divorce. He did have a can of gas and a small lighter in his possession at the time, but police are not sure if it is either of these two tools or the taser stun itself that caused Lopez to burst into flames.

Police started using tasers as a non-lethal weapon in January 2004. Unlike a night stick or gun, it can subdue unruly suspects and criminals without doing serious damage. However, this may not be the case. The human rights group Amnesty International USA has done a study on taser use has counted 250 cases in which people have died after being stunned with a taser. However, they cannot say whether the taser was the actual cause of the these deaths or contributed in any way. Only about 12 deaths have been confirmed in the U.S., and people who are heavy drug users or suffer from heart problems are most at risk to be killed by a stun gun.

There is also the question about whether or not police are appropriately using these weapons as a means for defense rather than for aggression. In Oklahoma City, a homeless woman died after being stunned with a taser even though she was on the ground and in handcuffs. Some experts say that tasers should not be used at all, especially on women. However, police say that tasers save their own lives as well as others because they are substituting tasers for other weapons. Regardless, tasers are still a risky device and should be used with precaution.

For related articles visit

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,284572,00.html and

and http://www.foxnews.com/wires/2007Jun11/0,4670,TaserDeaths,00.html.

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