Irregular heart rhythm? Try a Taser

Belligerent hospital patient faces the perp-busting defibrillator

Connecticut doctors have provided circumstantial evidence that Tasers do affect the heart - backing critics' claims that the use of the "less-than-deadly" incapacitator may in fact prove resolutely deadly.

In the case of the belligerent 28-year-old patient admitted to Hartford Hospital, however, the end result of a light tasering was a swift recovery from atrial fibrillation, possibly provoked by his jumping into a freezing lake while attempting to escape pursuing cops back in April.

Cardiologist Dr Kyle Richards, who treated the unnamed perp in the hospital's emergency room, said: "I don't know exactly what he had done but he fled capture from them and he hid in a lake."

Richards noted in the Annals of Emergency Medicine that an electrocardiogram indicated the patient was suffering from the aformentioned irregular heart rhythm, "possibly as a result of the cold and shock".

Following treatment, the man became "very combative and started yelling in my face and that's when I left the room and got security", Richards continued.

Police and security operatives quickly followed the increasingly-popular hospital subjugation protocol and whipped out a Taser, administering a "low-voltage charge meant to cause pain" rather than the full-fat 50,000V shock.

A further electrocardiogram on the man "showed his heart rhythm was normal". Richards noted: "This is the first report of a patient receiving a shock of this kind and having a positive outcome."

Sounding a note of caution, though, Richards admitted the patient "was not hooked up to the electrocardiogram at the precise moment of being shocked", and stressed: "People can spontaneously go from atrial fibrillation into a normal rhythm without any intervention at all. You cannot conclusively say that the Taser did it."

Richards said he believed it did, concluding: "It's just one more thing that says, hey, Tasers can actually affect the heart."

Reuters notes that Amnesty Inetrnational has fingered the Taser in 290 North American deaths since 2001. Taser insists there is "no evidence the gun directly caused the deaths", as Reuters puts it.

The UN's Committee Against Torture disagrees, and back in November last year issued a statement on the TaserX26, which read: "The use of TaserX26 weapons, provoking extreme pain, constituted a form of torture, and that in certain cases it could also cause death, as shown by several reliable studies and by certain cases that had happened after practical use."

Among several notable Taser-related fatalilties is the case of 21-year-old Christian Allen, who was was pulled over by cops in Jacksonville, Florida, "because his [car] radio was too loud". When he and a passenger "took off running", as ABC put it back in November, an officer gave chase, caught Allen and "used a Taser gun at least three times before [he] was taken into custody".

Allen was put in the back of a police car, "suffered a cardiac arrest and died later at a hospital". ®

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