Being Tasered Diminishes People’s Abilities To Understand their Legal Rights

Rob Wipond
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After they have been hit by a taser, most people experience a significant diminishing in their memory and cognitive functions for up to an hour, according to an unpublished study discussed in Live Science. The researchers said that the impacts were serious enough to raise into doubt whether people who’ve been tasered will understand their legal rights during any subsequent police arrest.

“In order to give up your right to remain silent, which would allow the police to question you during that custodial interrogation, you have to be able to give a knowing and valid waiver,” Robert Kane, Director of the Criminology and Justice Studies Program at Drexel University told Live Science. “You have to be of sound mind, you have to know what you are doing and you have to understand the consequences of talking to police.”

In their study, Kane’s research team had 142 students from Arizona State University either do nothing, hit a punching bag, get hit by a taser, or hit a punching bag and get hit by a taser. They then ran the students through cognition and memory tests and compared them to each students’ own baseline. “Students showed the greatest variability on the so-called Hopkins Verbal Learning Test, which can indicate anything from mild cognitive impairment to full-blown dementia,” reported Live Science. “Students who were tased did significantly worse than the control group.”

“It really affected some of them,” Kane told Live Science. “Some of them started to cry. They felt diminished or overwhelmed.”

Taser’s 50,000-Volt Jolt Can Mess Up Your Brain (LiveScience, October 10, 2014)

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