According to a doctor at Wake Forest University, the chances of dying after being Tased are about 1 in 870. Try telling that to the survivors of the lone exception to the rule. Augusta, Ga., Fox affiliate WFXG states that George Harvey went into cardiac arrest after he was Tased Saturday around 8 p.m. The coroner estimates he was dead 45 minutes later.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) is now looking into the incident to determine whether Richmond County deputies used excessive force to take down the 39-year-old Harvey.
Cheryl Otey, a bystander, made a video recording of the arrest attempt-gone-wrong with her cell phone. She didn’t want to appear on camera but claims Harvey was Tased four times.
GBI officials say at least two deputies tried to take Harvey into custody but that he repeatedly resisted. They would not say how many times he was Tased.
A search of court records by the station revealed that Harvey was convicted of several felonies between 2001 and 2012. Among the charges brought against him that resulted in convictions were trafficking in cocaine and theft by deception. He was also scheduled to appear in court on 14 occasions for issues related to delinquent child support. His family says he had 12 children.
The use of Tasers by law enforcement has been hotly debated. The left-leaning Amnesty International insists that at least 500 people in the U.S. have died since 2001 after being Tased by police. But supporters of the device claim that electroshock guns are a safer alternative to more conventional weapons, including firearms.
A common misconception is Tasers, which are designated as “non-lethal,” cannot cause death. Taser International, a major support organization, indicates that “non-lethal” as defined by the United States Department of Defense implies that the weapon is not intended to be fatal, and in most cases is not.
A study by the American Heart Association maintains that the shock from a Taser can “provoke cardiac arrest” because it creates uncontrolled contractions and an unusually fast heart rate.
GBI officials say once they’ve determined what happened in the case of George Harvey, they will turn their information over to the District Attorney’s office and they will decide how to proceed.