Taser maker discusses use of weapons after death of Gulfport man

Taser maker discusses use of weapons after death of Gulfport man
(Photo source: WLOX)

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Questions are still swirling over the death of a Gulfport man after police used a Taser to subdue him. On Monday, Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove identified the man as 53-year-old Bradford Macomber.

Because of the ongoing investigation, Hargrove could not discuss the cause of death, any medical conditions, or how many times Macomber was hit with a Taser.

Gulfport police say they got a call around 4:30 Sunday afternoon about an erratic/disorderly man inside the Shaggy's Restaurant on Highway 90. When officers arrived, they found the man outside the business. Police say Macomber was resistive, so an officer deployed his Taser to subdue him.

After Macomber was handcuffed, police say he continued his erratic behavior so AMR was called in. Police say he later died at the hospital. A spokesman for Taser International said the weapons are often used in violent situations.

"Tasers are used on average in the U.S. 904 times a day, so these are fairly routinely used, and so you're getting a lot of uses per day. In those types of situations, it's usually people being combative and fighting police," said Steve Tuttle of Taser International.

Tuttle said Tasers are not a replacement for deadly force.
"It's designed to immobilize someone. So when you pull the trigger, two probes attached by wire fly out. They stick to either clothing or skin. Since one is positive and the other is negative, and opposites attract," said Tuttle.

Tuttle said the electrical output causes muscles to contract 19 times per second, causing the person to be immobilized for five seconds.

"It's a very, very low current, but it is enough to cause muscle contractions and you can't fight back," said Tuttle.

Tuttle said Tasers have been used more than 5 million times in the field and in training, and ten deaths have been linked to their use.

"Most of that would be related to falls. If it's used in someone who's in an elevated position, they're immobilized and they can fall. We've had fractured necks and we've had some skull fractures and other incidents," said Tuttle.
In situations when the suspect is on drugs or has health problems, Tuttle said Tasers don't make matters worse.

"They've been so successful, they've actually saved over 165,000 lives from death of serious injuries. They have made an incredible impact and they really have changed policing for the better," he said.

WLOX also reached out to Gulfport police, asking them how many officers were involved in the Sunday incident and whether any have been placed on leave. We were told all questions should be referred to the Harrison County District Attorney's Office and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations, which are now handling the case. WLOX left messages with both agencies, but no one has returned our calls.

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