Minorities more likely to be shot with stun guns in Connecticut

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Once they unholstered their stun guns, police in Connecticut fired them at black and Hispanic subjects at a higher rate than white subjects in 2015, according to an analysis of discharge data collected by the state.

Also, police warned but did not fire at whites at a higher rate than for blacks or Hispanics. These official findings from researchers at the Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy at Central Connecticut State University are in line with a Trend CT analysis from January.

Stun-gun incidents involved minorities 53 percent of the time compared to 47 for white residents.

Of the times a stun gun was unholstered, white males were shocked 60 percent of the time. Hispanic males were shocked 66 percent of the time, and black males were shocked 81 percent of the time.

Although black and Hispanic persons involved in reported taser incidents were more likely than white persons to be stunned, black and Hispanic persons were less likely than whites to be armed. About 19 percent of white males were armed, compared to 16 percent of Hispanic males and 12 percent of black males.

This is the first release of the data, and officials warned against drawing conclusions since the data varies from department to department. Researches said it was likely the numbers were under-reported because many police departments did not report all uses of a taser. Much of the under-reporting appears to have involved incidents in which the stun gun was used in laser-sight or warning arc mode without delivering an electric shock.

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.

In 2011, the Connecticut ACLU and NAACP began pushing for legislation to ensure police departments were training officers in stun gun use and tracking that use. The law was passed in 2014. Connecticut is the first state in the country requiring its police departments to track stun gun use.

Before this data existed, no one knew how often stun guns were used. Comprehensive data enables policymakers, officials, and watchdog groups to see whether trends exist that might need additional legislation.

Connecticut State Police and Hartford police did not report when a stun gun was arced or laser-sighted (unholstered) and other departments told researchers they did not know of the requirement to report on each different type of activity when it came to stun guns.

Researchers noted that Hartford police also failed to report a stun-gun incident in August that resulted in the death of Matthew Russo in August.

Deaths after stun-gun use in Connecticut
Name Age Year Town Race Link
Thomas Lane 37 2016 New Haven Black Story
David Werblow 41 2015 Branford White Story
Matthew Russo 26 2015 Hartford White Story
Lashano Gilbert 31 2014 New London African-American Story
Jose Angel Maldonado 22 2104 East Hartford Hispanic Story
Seth Victor 40 2013 New Britain White Story
Noel Mendoza 43 2013 Meriden Hispanic Story
Angel Hiraldo 48 2012 Meriden Hispanic Story
Ronaldo Cristiano Jr. 51 2011 Bridgeport White Story
Marcus G. Brown 26 2011 Waterbury African-American Story
Anibal Rosario Rodriguez 61 2010 New Britain Hispanic Story
Efrain Carrion 35 2010 Middletown Hispanic Story
Stephen Palmer 47 2009 Stamford Unknown Story
Donovan T. Graham 35 2008 Meriden African-American Story
David Mills 26 2007 Hamden African-American Story
Nicholas Brown 24 2006 Milford Unknown Story
Jesus Negron 39 2006 New Britain Hispanic Story
Miguel Serrano 35 2005 New Britain Hispanic Story
ACLU of Connecticut

In all, police said stun guns were used 650 times in 2015 involving 610 people

About 94 percent of those stunned were men.

Of those stunned, 83 percent of the people involved were unarmed with 40 percent indicating they were suicidal.

Almost half the logs noted that the persons involved in stun-gun incidents were “under the influence of alcohol/drugs” or “possibly intoxicated.” Researchers urged officers to add more context for future studies.

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 out to be shocked multiple times.

Researchers said they hoped that data collection would improve in the future, and reporting practices would be clarified so department logs would be more consistent.

What do you think?

  • Libertarian Advocate

    Is it possible that Whites are more likely than Blacks and Hispanics to promptly comply with LEO commands once they see the stun-gun deployed? How many of those shocked (all backgrounds) were under the influence of alcohol/drugs/both?

  • hotshotlove

    What is the ratio of criminal acts by race in Connecticut? If one race commits more acts of crime disproportionally to another, it conditionally might follow that there is more opportunity to be confronted by police. Various statistics can be interpreted in any way the compiler chooses. There are numerous instances when conclusions precede the study and the study is configured to meet the conclusions. Listen, but verify.