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Study of Deaths Following Electro Muscular Disruption: Interim Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2008
21 pages

This report presents results from a medical panel addressing whether conducted energy devices (CEDs), devices utilized by more than 11,000 law enforcement agencies across the country as the less-lethal weapon of choice, can contribute to or cause mortality and if so, in what ways.


Although exposure to conducted energy device (CED) is not risk free, there is no conclusive medical evidence within the state of current research that indicates a high risk of serious injury or death from the direct effects of CED exposure. Field experience with CED use indicates that exposure is safe in the vast majority of cases. Therefore, law enforcement need not refrain from deploying CEDs, provided the devices are used in accordance with accepted national guidelines. During the 3 years from 2003 through 2005, 47 states and the District of Columbia reported 1,095 arrest-related deaths proximal to law enforcement’s use of force. To limit injuries and deaths, less-lethal technologies have been used since the early 1990s. It is reported that some 11,500 law enforcement agencies have acquired conducted energy devices (CEDs), of which the leading manufacturer of CEDs, TASER International, introduced in 2003. However, a significant number of individuals have died after exposure to a CED giving rise to questions regarding the safety of CEDs. This report presents a consensus view of a panel consisting of physicians, medical examiners, and other relevant specialists in cardiology, emergency medicine, epidemiology, pathology, and toxicology from a complete review of the available, peer-reviewed research literature and extensive information concerning the use of CEDs in the field. The findings have been limited to those conclusions that can be reached based on current understanding. New research and case studies will continue to be examined by the panel of deaths proximate to the use of CEDs. Glossary and references

Date Published: June 1, 2008