This paper presents an evaluation of “Stingball” brand rubber ball grenades and their application for law enforcement and correctional officers as diversionary devices, and identifies a number of factors that potentially impact its deployment.
The authors of this paper report on a project that evaluated Stingball brand rubber ball grenades, which resulted in the identification of various factors that potentially impact its deployment The authors first present a literature review of less-lethal weapons deployment studies as well as relevant case law dating from 1987 through 2011, then report on the project, for which they focused on the Stingball model 9590 from Combined Tactical System (CTS). Two initial concerns formed the basis for the study: the dispersion pattern of the Stingballs is frequently described as 360 degrees of coverage regardless of initiating source, explosion or deflagration, however it was hypothesized to be unlikely that universal coverage could be achieved since some projectiles would be launched upward; and unlike other less-lethal weapons that target safe zones of the body, the trajectory of Stingball fragments cannot be controlled by the user and could potentially strike unintended portions of the target’s body, creating a concern for eye safety and soft tissue damage, and that projectiles might become lethal. Various factors were identified that could potentially impact its deployment in law enforcement and corrections, and two of those factors negatively affected the accurate placement of the grenade, causing unpredictability in deployment, and may make application of these weapons inconsistent with existing case law. The first factor was that the rubber exterior causes the grenade to bounce unpredictably, and the second was that the separating fuse moves the device an average of seven feet prior to deflagration. The authors also found that the grenade body broke into various size fragments that became additional pieces of shrapnel. These factors may limit the applications in which the Stingball grenade could be deployed.