A new study finds that stun guns affect brain function for about an hour after the 50,000-volt shock is administered.
Thousands of police departments use stun guns as a nonlethal alternative during altercations with suspects, but the shock could affect a suspect’s ability to understand — or waive — their Miranda rights or participate in an interrogation.
For the study, 142 college students volunteered to be shocked by off-duty police officers.
Researchers found significant decline in their cognitive function. Robert Kane, who heads Drexel University’s Criminology and Justice Studies Department, was one of the authors for this study.
“Their cognitive functioning declined such that they began to resemble 78-year-old males with mild cognitive impairment,” he explained.
Kane said it is not yet clear whether brain function drops because of the shock or pain caused by the stun gun, or as a result of the electric shock.
“We tested our participants, right after they were tased, then after an hour, and a week later. On average, for almost everybody involved, the effects lasted an hour,” he said.
This is the first study of its kind.
Kane said that the findings could lead to a broader conversation about the impact of stun guns on brain function. In some cases, he said, police officers could consider waiting for about an hour before engaging a suspect who had been subjected to a stun gun.