Fri | Sep 22, 2017

Racial disparities in Connecticut stun gun use

Published:Thursday | January 28, 2016 | 1:00 AM
An officer holds a stun gun used by his police department in Farmington, Connecticut.

CONNECTICUT (AP):

Officers last year fired stun guns at blacks and Hispanics at a higher rate than at white suspects, and warned but didn't fire at white suspects at a higher rate than they did blacks or Hispanics, according to preliminary data from the first state to require police to document their use of stun guns.

The new data from Connecticut come as police across the US face increasing scrutiny over their use of force, in the wake of high-profile fatal shootings by officers, especially of black suspects. Although stun guns have been billed as non-lethal alternatives to guns, they have resulted in deaths, and reliable information on how police use them has been lacking.

Among the figures revealed in the raw data, obtained and reviewed by The Associated Press ahead of an official report expected in coming weeks:

- State and municipal police reported 641 incidents involving stun guns last year, including 437 actual firings and 204 threats of use.

- Within the overall number of stun gun incidents, officers fired them 60 per cent of the time in cases involving whites, 80 per cent of the time in cases involving blacks, and 69 per cent of the time in cases involving Hispanics.

- Officers warned about firing but did not do so at white suspects 40 per cent of the time, black suspects 20 per cent of the time, and Hispanic suspects 31 per cent of the time.

- When officers fired their stun guns in 2015, 43 per cent of the suspects were white, 35 per cent were black, and 21 per cent were Hispanic. But when officers only threatened to use stun guns and did not fire them, 61 per cent of the subjects were white, 19 per cent were black, and 20 per cent were Hispanic.

- Thirty per cent of the people involved in the overall incidents were black and 21 per cent were Hispanic.