A 38-year-old Malian immigrant wielding a hammer in a scuffle with authorities died on Tuesday from undetermined causes after being Tasered twice by police in the Paris suburb of Colombes, police sources said.
AFP - A hammer-wielding Malian immigrant died Tuesday after French police shot him twice with a Taser stun gun during a scuffle, a police spokesman told AFP.
"During his arrest, a Taser was used twice. Following the intervention, the person died of a cause that remains to be determined," the spokesman said, after the incident in the Paris suburb of Colombes.
Police use of the Taser to subdue suspects has been controversial in France, with rights groups alleging that it can be deadly if misused, but the company that produces the weapon insists it is safe.
The director of the Taser's French subsidiary, Antoine di Zazzo, told AFP: "Only this man's autopsy will be able to say whether our pistol is responsible for his death. To date, worldwide, a Taser has never killed anyone."
While it is true that Taser has thus far been successful in defending the safety of its device in court cases around the world, authorities in Canada and Australia are still investigating whether it was to blame in some deaths.
And in Britain, the firm has been barred from supplying Tasers to police after it was found to have wrongly sold an unlicensed new version of the gun to a regional police force, which used it in a fatal stand-off with a gunman.
Trouble broke out just after midnight Monday when police were called to an argument between the 38-year-old Malian, who was allegedly staying in France illegally, and a friend who had provided him with a place to stay.
When officers attempted to check his identity papers the man "flipped out" and seized a hammer to beat them back, injuring four of the eight police who pursued him through the apartment block, a police source said.
Police shot the heavily overweight fugitive twice with Tasers, which fire a pair of darts into a target to stun him with a wave of electricity, but in this case appear to have had no visible effect, the officer said.
Officers eventually managed to arrest him and were bringing him out of the building in the block's elevator when he collapsed. Paramedics were already on the scene to treat injured police but could not revive him.
Local prosecutors have ordered an inquiry to determine the cause of death.
Date created : 2010-11-30