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SUDDEN deaths among people being held by police in California increased sixfold in the first year after police departments there began using Taser stun guns, according to a survey by the University of California, San Francisco. The finding appears to back Amnesty International's view that Tasers are a threat to life.
Taser International, which makes the weapons, says that the study is flawed because it relies on "suspect data sampling" from a limited number of police departments.
The researchers compared death rates in custody in the five years before and after the Taser was introduced. Death rates returned to previous levels in the second year. The UCSF team says this was probably because police changed the way they used the stun guns after the first year.