The study aimed at clarifying the dispute on potential health hazards associated with delivering electric discharges to incapacitate subjects, in particular whether Taser weapon use might be lethal, less-lethal or non-lethal. The cardiac fibrillation risk of Taser weapons X26, X3 and XREP has been investigated by measuring the electric output. Thresholds of ventricular muscle cells for excitation by the measured Taser pulses have been determined at numerical cellular models. Detailed quantitative assessment of Taser-induced electric cardiac exposure has been performed by computer simulation at numerical anatomical models of slim and overweighed men as well as of a pregnant women and a child to account also for the impact of anatomical variation. In addition, further numerical models allowed assessing the risk for patients with implanted pacemakers. Spacing and location of Taser electrodes in dart as well as in contact mode were systematically varied, and the worst-case hit determined. Based on quantified volume-weighted cardiac exposure the fibrillation probability of identified worst case hits was determined. In addition, for overall risk assessment of Taser use realistic spatial hit distributions were derived from training sessions of police officers under realistic scenarios. The results showed that the overall fibrillation risk of Taser use is not negligible low. This justifies classifying TASER weapons as less-lethal devices.
TU Graz, Inst. f. Health Care Engineering
Ansprechpartner: Univ.-Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr. Norbert Leitgeb