Fresh concern raised over Taser safety after seventh death in 10 years

Man stunned while being restrained in Manchester suffered 'medical episode'

Fresh concerns have been raised over the safety of Tasers following the death of an ice cream man who was stunned while being restrained by police.

Friends and neighbours in Gorton, Manchester, disputed claims that Jordan Begley, 23, had been wielding a knife shortly before he collapsed and suffered a "medical episode" following a domestic dispute.

An Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation will now examine whether the use of the Taser was appropriate.

Locals described how police were engaged in a tense stand-off with the man, who lived with his mother and who had just finished a shift at an ice cream factory.

His employer Peter Sivori, 77, said he witnessed the attempted arrest but was ordered to move on by police when he offered to negotiate. "He was first class, he was a good worker, a bit quietish but he was hard working," he said.

Greater Manchester Police said it was unclear what had happened after officers arrived at the address around 8.15pm on Wednesday. Mr Begley was treated by paramedics at the scene but died later in hospital.

He is the seventh person to die after being shot with a Taser since they were introduced in Britain in 2003.  Three months ago a man in Plymouth, who was doused in a flammable liquid, died when he burst into flames after being stunned by officers.

Yet while none of the five previous deaths in the UK has been confirmed as caused by the device, in the United States Tasers are believed to have contributed to more than 60 fatalities, according to Amnesty International.

Sophie Khan, an advocate solicitor who specialises in Taser-related injuries, said the devices were legally classified as firearms and were not simply for officer protection. She said they should only be deployed in life-threatening situations.

"We are going to see a massive increase in the use of Tasers when the latest figures are published in September. But there are no statistics to show that police are now in more danger. We ask where is the evidence? It is a hypothetical scenario they are creating which does not exist," she said.

Campaigners called for tougher rules governing their use and say officers - who undergo a three day course before being issued with a Taser - should receive more stringent training.

The Metropolitan Police is increasing the number of officers it issues with Tasers from 800 to 1,300 raising concerns that the devices are leading to a routine arming of police. The Police Federation, which represents rank and file, wants all front line officers issued with the weapons which incapacitate a target's neuro-muscular system.

Home Office figures to 2010 show that police have fired 2,185 times first since being armed with Tasers although their use rose by 66 per cent in the following year.

Deborah Coles, co-director of the death in custody charity Inquest said: "This latest death raises serious questions about the safety of Tasers that warrants proper scrutiny given their increasing use by police as a so-called 'non-lethal' use of force."

The Crown Prosecution Service is considering an incident earlier this year when a 63-year-old blind man was stunned in Chorley, Lancashire by officers searching for a suspect allegedly armed with a Samurai sword.

Deputy Chief Constable of West Mercia Police, Simon Chesterman, who represents the Association of Chief Police Officers on firearms issues, said that Tasers were "not risk free" but that the chance of harm was "very low" and normally the result of falling whilst incapacitated.

"There has been a significant increase in the use of Tasers but that runs parallel to the increase in the number of officers carrying them," he said.

Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star