Police Use Bean Bag/Taser Guns

By: Gary Nurenberg
By: Gary Nurenberg

The weapon is being increasingly used by police departments looking for alternatives to the tasers that cops use to shock suspects with an electrical charge.

Holding a handgun to his head in Georgia last September, the domestic abuse suspect threatens to kill Cherokee County sheriffs deputies; taunts them saying kill me, kill me. Instead they fire a bean bag, striking him once, and then again, forcing him to drop the gun.

"Contrary to popular belief, police officers are not, uhm, do not desire to kill people," said Chief William Mason of the Harwich, Massachuttes Police Department

The Harwich Massachusetts Police used a beanbag to subdue a knife-wielding suspect.

"No innocent bystander was injured, no police officer was injured and the suspect required no medical attention," said Lieutenant Michael Anderson of the Chatham, Massachusetts Police Department

Some departments are using the bean bags as an alternative to tasers, which hit suspects like this woman, with an electrical charge. The president of the Washington, D.C. Fraternal Order of Police said tasers don't always work.

"I hit him with both cartridges, zapped him and uh it had absolutely no effect, as a matter of fact he bit me in the hand and took the taser away from me," said Lou Cannon of the Washington, D.C. Fraternal Order of Police.

An Amnesty International study concludes that more than 100 suspects have died after being zapped by those tasers that carry 50 thousand volts. The bean bags or impact-munitions, as they are called, have also killed .

"It was because the chest was targeted and injury resulted there and that resulted in death. Our primary target areas are the green areas, the lower abdomen and the thighs and obviously from the rear the buttocks and the back of the legs, those are the preferred areas to hit," said Corporal Thomas Powell of the Anne Arundel Maryland Sheriffs Department.

According to officers, bean bags beat hand to hand combat on the streets

"Think of a very long nightstick. It allows us the ability to reach out and strike somebody just like we would with our baton or stick and yet give us additional distance to keep us safe," Powell said.

And allow suspects stay alive.

Gary Nurenberg, CNN, Washington.

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