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Study of Deaths Following Electro Muscular Disruption

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2011
74 pages

This study from the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, examined the incidence of deaths following the use of controlled energy devices (CEDs).


This final report found no conclusive medical evidence that the direct or indirect cardiovascular or metabolic effects of short-term exposure to controlled energy devices (CEDs) used by police departments in use-of-force events presents a high risk of serious injury or death to health, normal, nonstressed, nonintoxicated individuals. The research indicates that the risk of death from these incidents is less than 0.25 percent, and are safe for use as long as police departments use the devices in accordance with accepted national guidelines and appropriate use-of-force policy. This study examined the risk of death or serious injury from the use of CEDs in use-of-force events after several cases where individuals have died after exposure to CEDs. A steering group of experts from NIJ, the College of American Pathologists, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Association of Medical Examiners examined research that looked at death investigation, CED use, CED-related health effects, and the medical response to these incidents. The panel found no conclusive evidence that normal, appropriate use of CEDs on health individuals in use-of-force events carries a high risk of serious injury or death to the suspects. The panel recommends that all deaths that occur after deployment of a CED should be subject to a complete medicolegal investigation, including a complete autopsy by a forensic pathologist in conjunction with a medically objective investigation that is independent of law enforcement." Tables, appendixes, and references

Date Published: May 1, 2011