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Bay Area officers participate in Taser exercise

April 7, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Dozens of Bay Area police officers found out today what it's like to get Tased. A special training class took place at CSU East Bay, just days after Caltrain police were criticized for using a Taser on an unruly passenger.

After 50,000 volts of electricity, there's not much you can do but just lie down.

Anthony Vieira has never Tased anyone in his four years as a police officer, but he volunteered to be the guinea pig in this training at CSU East Bay, twice in the same day.

"The way I look at is in case somebody takes the Taser away and they point it at me, then I know what it can do. What it's going to do, so I can react properly," he said.

Two probes fire out about 25 feet and they penetrate the body like a fish hook, and instantly send the muscles into shock.

This was a Taser training for a soon-to-be new generation of Taser trainers.

"We are rapidly approaching the day that if you don't have a Taser as a force option available to you, you're going to open yourself up to liability because you'll use deadly force in a situation where you could have saved a person's life," instructor and Watsonville Police Sgt. Eric Taylor said.

One of the drills consisted of drawing the Taser across the body so that an officer doesn't mistakenly draw a firearm instead.

Former BART officer Johannes Mehserle said he meant to fire his Taser when he shot and killed passenger Oscar Grant. The position of Mesherle's Taser will be a key issue in his upcoming trial.

Amnesty International says since 2001 more than 350 people have been killed in the United States by Tasers.

"I would rather have one of my officers use a Taser than have to shoot somebody," Sgt. Bruce Edwards from CSU East Bay Police Department said.

They hope they don't have to use this tool.

While Amnesty International found that more than 350 people have died since 2001 after being shocked by Tasers, the group also says its 2008 report was not a scientific study. Taser is a trademark, but Amnesty's study used the name to include similar shock weapons with different names.


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