Who, where and how often people are stunned by police in Connecticut

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The bigger the suspect, the more likely police were to stun them multiple times before taking them into custody.

White suspects were more likely to be stunned within their home, while black and Hispanics were more often stunned outdoors in a public area.

A knife was the weapon suspects were most likely to wield before police deployed a stun gun to incapacitate them.

This is all according to a deeper analysis of 610 stun-gun incidents tracked by the state of Connecticut. Trend CT has previously written about how minorities are more likely to be shot with stun guns in the state. And how police warned but did not fire at whites at a higher rate than for blacks or Hispanics.

Of the 610 incidents in which stun guns were unholstered, 419 persons were actually stunned.

This is the first release of data on stun-gun use, and officials have warned against drawing conclusions since the quality of the data varies from department to department. Of the 700,000 arrest and traffic-stop incidents officers conducted across the state, less than one percent involved the use of a stun gun.

Stun guns use pulses of electrical current to disrupt muscle control. Depending on the subject, sometimes police use more than one pulse or deployment to subdue a suspect.

The median weight of people stunned was 189 pounds. The average weight was 180.

A little more than 10 percent of subjects were subjected to a secondary taser deployment (such as from a second officer). Those people tended to be heavier than the people who were only fired upon once.

Type of stun deployment by height, weight
Deployment primary Average weight Average height Median weight Median height
Cartridge (fired) 193 70 180 70
Drive stun (fired) 190 70 180 70
Laser sight 182 70 180 70
Unholster 177 70 167.5 71
Warning arc 175 71 160 71
CCSU INSTITUTE FOR MUNICIPAL AND REGIONAL POLICY MANAGEMENT

It appears that people who were actually fired upon with stun guns, either with a cartridge or “drive stun,” were a little bit heavier on average, but about the same height.

Frequency of stuns by race
Race No stun Single stun Multiple stuns
Black 19.79% 54.01% 26.2%
Hispanic 33.08% 33.85% 33.08%
White 40% 35.17% 24.83%
CCSU Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy Management

The tallest person stunned was was 7.25 feet tall and the shortest was 4.91 feet tall.

The median and mean height of people who were subject to stun gun use was around six feet tall.

Of 419 persons who were stunned, more than 60 percent reportedly received only one electric shock and about 30 percent received multiple shocks.

Hispanic men were the most likely to be shocked multiple times.

Blacks in their early twenties and early thirties were most-often stunned.

Meanwhile, whites had a large distribution of stuns throughout their twenties. The oldest suspects to be stunned were also white.

More than 95 white suspects were stunned in their homes— the most of any other race or ethnic group.

Black and Hispanic suspects were most often stunned outdoors in a public area.


When police use stun guns in Connecticut
Based on officer perception of situation as indicated in post-deployment report. Does not include results of intoxication report, if tested.

Total stuns deployed

610

Failed to follow directions

335

Aggressive verbally

279

Aggressive physically

278

Fighting stance, combative

273

Possibly intoxicated

261

Fleeing

209

Under the influence

206

Emotionally disturbed

164

Domestic disturbance

142

Dead weight, non-compliant

124

Suicidal

77

Officer injured

72

Traffic stop

66

Unarmed assault

65

Non-aggressive

62

Threatening with weapon

43

SOURCE: CCSU Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy Management

The categories checked by police officers in these reports provide interesting insight into the situations police face that lead to the use of stun guns.

More than half of the suspects who were stunned did not follow orders, according to officers.

About 45 percent of them showed signs of aggressiveness, whether verbally, physically or through body language.

More than a third of suspects were incapacitated while fleeing or under some sort of influence.

A little less than a quarter of those stunned were involved in a domestic dispute.

What suspects are wielding before stunned by police

Knife

42

Firearm

6

Tool

6

Glass

4

Possible weapon

4

Bat

3

Unknown

3

Vehicle

3

Sharp object

3

Box cutter

2

Facsimile firearm

2

Sword

1

Pitbull

1

Arrow

1

Cane

1

Chair

1

SOURCE: CCSU Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy Management

Knives were most-often wielded by suspects before being subdued with stun guns.

Firearms and “facsimile” firearms, described as a toy or replica, were the second-most weapon carried by suspects in these incidents.

 Data Editor Jake Kara contributed to this data analysis.


Check our work: The GitHub repository containing our work is available here. We encourage you to look over our calculations and expand upon our analysis.


Bonus: As an interesting exercise, my colleague Jake Kara, also worked did a data analysis for story but with Python.

We livestreamed our process. Jake with Python [video]. Me with R (Sorry, I didn’t realize I was on mute for the first part) [video].

What do you think?