Police Too Quick to Taser?

Three Tasering incidents in the last week have authorities under the microscope.

Sept. 21, 2007 — -- They've been touted as the safety weapon of choice.

Nonlethal electroshock Tasers temporarily paralyze victims. They only affect your muscles, not any vital organs like the heart. But getting shocked with 50,000 volts of electricity can feel the same as falling off a two-story building, and more than 150 people have died in the United States after being Tasered.

In the last week, several stun-gun cases caught on camera have many wondering whether law enforcement officers were too quick to use them.

Heidi Gill, 38, said she feared for her life when police Officer Rich Kovach Tasered her over and over again after a bar argument in Warren, Ohio.

"I didn't think I was going to make it out of there. I just wanted this pain to stop. This electrocuting and Tasering … I didn't know what Tasering even was," Gill said.

After a police video of Gill's Tasering was released, Kovach was placed on paid leave.

And earlier this week, the Taser incident heard 'round the world: Monday, University of Florida student Andrew Meyer's persistent questions to Sen. John Kerry drew ire from campus police.

He was physically restrained by campus police before one officer Tasered him.

Meyer yelped during the incident, "Don't Tase me, bro! I didn't do anything!"

After the altercation, the university put two campus police officers on leave and asked for a state probe into whether they had used appropriate force.

"I think this incident will cause the university to look closely at our Taser policy — when we use it and why," said Bernard Machen, University of Florida president.

Police insist Tasers are overwhelmingly safe and ask the public to look past their initial reaction.

"Having been Tasered a number of times myself — and I can attest to [the] fact [that] I'm still here — I can say there is no permanent injury," said Alan Goldberg, commander of the Montgomery County Maryland Police.

But since June 2001, more than 150 people have died in the United States after being shocked by a Taser. Eight states ban their use.

Monday, sheriffs in Orange County, Calif., defended the use of a stun gun on Taylor Karras, an autistic 15-year-old boy who had been darting in and out of traffic.

"I gave up by doing this [hands behind his head], and then they Tasered me and I laid down, I got down. I was on the ground and they Tasered me again," Karras said.

Today, more than 7,000 law enforcement agencies around the world routinely use Taser guns.