Home / Be The Change / New Study / This Explains A Lot — First of Its Kind Study Shows Police Tasers Can Cause Temporary Dementia

This Explains A Lot — First of Its Kind Study Shows Police Tasers Can Cause Temporary Dementia


The first study to look at the effects of a Taser shock on the human brain has produced unsettling results that will have major implications for police encounters. People are often questioned and/or read their Miranda rights just after being Tased, but researchers found that receiving 50,000 volts of electricity can cause a state of short-term cognitive impairment comparable to dementia.

Tasers have become the tool of choice for law enforcement “less than lethal weapons,” with two million citizens being subjected to the devices. They can indeed be lethal, however, as 47 Americans died after being Tased last year. Tasers do not seem to reduce the number of people shot to death by police either, and they are often deployed needlessly.

Calvon Reid, who was simply standing in the wrong place at the wrong time, was Tased to death by two cops at the same time while two other cops stood by. A witness said the cops could have easily manhandled Reid, but they were just “punishing him.”

Considering the eagerness with which cops tend to deploy Tasers, the new study may force changes in the way that law enforcement handles suspects who have been shocked. It appeared in the journal Criminology & Public Policy last month, with lead authors Robert J. Kane and Michael D. White.

“New research from a first-of-its-kind human study by Drexel University and Arizona State University reveals that the burst of electricity from a stun gun can impair a person’s ability to remember and process information. In a randomized control trial, participants were subjected to Taser shocks and tested for cognitive impairment. Some showed short-term declines in cognitive functioning comparable to dementia, raising serious questions about the ability of police suspects to understand their rights at the point of arrest.”

Interestingly, the study “marks the first time that the Taser has been submitted to a major randomized clinical trial on a community sample outside the purview of Taser International.” This raises serious questions about whether the company, in pushing the devices to law enforcement, adequately tested its product or showed all of its results.

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The 142 participants in this study underwent a host of cognitive tests before and after receiving the shock. Results from the Hopkins Verbal Learning Test showed the greatest effect, with significant reductions in verbal learning and memory. There were also negative changes in other parameters, “including concentration difficulty, anxiety level and feeling overwhelmed.” These effects lasted no more than an hour, on average.

“The findings of this study have considerable implications for how the police administer Miranda warnings,” said Kane. “If suspects are cognitively impaired after being Tased, when should police begin asking them questions? There are plenty of people in prison who were tased and then immediately questioned. Were they intellectually capable of giving ‘knowing’ and ‘valid’ waivers of their Miranda rights before being subjected to a police interrogation? We felt we had moral imperative to fully understand the Tasers’ potential impact on decision-making faculties in order to protect individuals’ due process rights.”

It should also be noted that the study participants were healthy young people who were sober and drug-free at the time of testing. Since cops using their Tasers are often dealing with people who are “high, drunk or mentally ill and in crisis at the time of exposure,” we would expect these people to experience even greater cognitive impairment after being Tased.

“When police take suspects into custody, they read them their Miranda rights, which state that suspects have the right to remain silent, and anything they say can and will be used against them in a court of law,” said Kane. “The findings from this study suggest that people who have been shocked with a Taser may be unable to understand and rationally act upon his or her legal rights, and may be more likely to waive their Miranda rights directly after Taser exposure or to give inaccurate information to investigators. These decisions can have profound impact on an eventual judicial finding of guilt or innocence.”

We should expect Taser International and police unions–both having a vested interest in electrocuting citizens–to begin a propaganda campaign and insist there is nothing to see here.

  • Every time you hit the ‘Like’ button, comment (even 2 words) and share this, you are helping us wake up the world (y)

  • You know the clops did the research before they begin to use these and as always did not lose any sleep over the effects it would have on people they use it on. Thank you for keeping us aware. I will always repost what you post as it will spread for others to be awakened.

  • If they don’t have to use them, no side effects. Remember most officers certified to use these devices have had to have them used on themselves as part of their training.

    • Then they should know from experience how harmful a taser is. Remember, not everyone tased by a cop is committing a crime.

    • Yes they do, only for split seconds though. It’s when you see them using tasers on the general public though that their sadistic personalities really shine thru as they aim those prongs to head, neck or chest and then over and over they’ll shock’em til the heart goes and the perp” either falls into coma or worse dies…

    • Law enforcement officers of all stripes undergo physcological evaluations before they undergo training and can be rejected for failing, one must look at the working environment to look at what brings on vilent behaviour,

    • Lol Soo you’re saying the psychologists who actually do the evaluations and then pass them off as sane to an unsuspecting public are the ones to blame?

    • Remember working environment, After the first few thousand drunks who say I wasn’t drinking, after shop lifters who claim I didn’t do I after taking the items off them, after responding to innumerable shootings, accidents, drug cases and deaths, officers can get to be very cautious about the “public”, toy guns often look real, and even obvious toys have been modified to hold real guns. The officer wants to go home to his family

    • Babysmokie Taylor and remember not all those who say I’m innocent are.

  • Be yourself no matter what. Some will adore you and some will hate everything about you. But who cares? It’s your life. Make the most out of it.

  • There are many signs that class tensions in the United States are beginning to erupt to the surface, from the militant opposition of autoworkers to last year’s sellout contracts, to the sickouts of teachers and students in Detroit and the mass anger over the poisoning of Flint, Michigan residents by lead-contaminated water. The conspiracies of the ruling class to expand war abroad will come into conflict with the deep antiwar sentiment that exists in the American working class.WSWS

  • I was at a festival and did nothing wrong a cop was harassing me so I told him to leave me alone…. I ended up with tazer burns all over my body and waking up I. a hospital because I got tazed so many tines and so much I lost consciousness

    • im sorry dude

    • it’s all good apparently I broke one’s nose while flailing unconscious cause they tried charging me with it and I have no memory of it

  • How does this effect what you say and do during Interrogation?

  • Tasers have killed people

  • The things tazers make a person do should not be held against them. The GIG HARBOR WASHINGTON police tazed me twice while I was handcuffed and seat belted in their car and then filed assault charges on me for the stuff I said that I had no control over… what is wrong with the police? In a small town the job really can’t be that tough pigs. Sorry you chose a job you don’t like, why don’t you quit and do something that you do like?

  • Mogli James Gamble what do you think?

  • I think all it did was pissed me off and give me a severe adrenaline rush. FUCK YOU WASHOE COUNTY RAT PIG FUCKFACE SHIT STAIN BITCH ASS BASTARDS 😉

  • Standard issue round for cops should be replaced with rubber bullets. Period. And get rid of tasers, I’ve walked through the charge and so have a few people I know. And that’s with full penetration, which often doesn’t actually happen in field use. Normally clothing gets in the way of the prods, so imo, get rid of them. Better yet, arm all cops with Nerf swords only. Then MAYBE they won’t be able to kill people with them, but knowing cops, they’ll find a way.

  • If they don’t use tazers then they’ll just use a pistol…I’m thinking a tazer is better.. But that’s none of my business…

  • Was it designed for that? Are people being used as guinea pigs to test that hypothesis?

  • Hope the Australian lawyers are checking this out.

  • Stop abuse