This research article details study into whether Tasers can cause ventricular fibrillation (VF) when used against humans.
Tasers are battery powered electrical devices used by law enforcement personnel to temporarily incapacitate a suspect. This study is a portion of a larger study to determine the probability of a Taser (X26 and M26) causing ventricular fibrillation (VF) in humans. The authors determined the distance between a Taser dart and the ventricle (dart-to-heart distance) necessary to trigger VF in an in-vivo porcine model, using 10 anesthetized pigs. All experiments were approved by the appropriate IUCUC and adhere to all applicable laws and standards of the NIH and USDA as well as the policies of the APS. To more accurately represent the dart-to-heart distances found in a human, the authors reflected the skin, subcutaneous fat and muscle over the sternum and placed a thoracic dart into the third intercostal space over the right ventricle. Current flowed to a second dart 15 to 54 cm away on the abdomen. The authors determined that the distance between the darts makes no significant difference in the current. The authors directly measured the dart-to-heart distance and confirmed it postmortem. The dart-to-heart distance that causes VF is 17 mm ±6.48 (SD) for the first VF event and 13.7 mm ±6.79 (SD) for the average of the successive VF events. The authors will combine these data with echocardiographic human anatomic data, police-provided dart landing distribution data, and a finite element method (FEM) model of current density in the human torso to yield a probability of a Taser causing VF in a human.