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Is There Data On How Police Nationwide Use Stun Guns?

In 2017, Glendale Police pulled over a car for a traffic violation. Johnny Wheatcroft was in the car with his wife, two children, and a friend. In a statement, the Glendale police department said that Wheatcroft was observed reaching in between the seats and couldn’t present ID. They said he, “exhibited verbal non-compliance” and resisted arrest.

To subdue him, as evidenced by the release of police body cam footage, the officers used a stun gun on him 11 times.

Wheatcroft is now suing the Glendale police department and the City of Glendale and, last week, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery sent the case to the FBI for further review.

Most of us are familiar with stun guns these days, a tool that delivers 50,000 volts of electricity to subdue a suspect. It’s considered a non-lethal tool, like mace, and 18,000 police departments across the country now use them. But how much do we know about their everyday use? Is the Glendale case typical?

William Terrill, professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University, analyzes stun guns in police departments. The Show asked him what he knows about when and how they're deployed.

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Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.