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Denver and Houston Put Tasers Back in the Headlines

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police_issue_x26_taser-whiteLast Thursday, Shane Ledbetter, who was wanted on several felony warrants, allegedly ran from police into Mission Viejo Park, where he was cornered. When he became violent, he was zapped with a Taser stun gun—twice. Ledbetter was subdued and handcuffed when officers observed that he “appeared to be unresponsive,” according to a police report cited by The Denver Post. Rescuers’ efforts failed to revive him, and Ledbetter was taken off life support Sunday. Although an autopsy will rule on the official cause of Ledbetter’s death, according to Fox31, the news reports raise more questions about the safety of Tasers and police policy. In a similar case in Texas, a man died after being shocked twice by a police Taser. The medical examiner there has ruled the death of Michael Patrick Jacobs Jr., who was mentally ill, a homicide, writes the Houston Chronicle, which reports Jacobs had difficulty breathing after he was handcuffed. Officers had been looking for someone else when they encountered Ledbetter, according to the family, who claim Ledbetter “just got spooked, and that’s why he ran.” While his family admits 38-year-old Ledbetter had a troubled past, including drug use, they say he was turning his life around.

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