NIJ In-Custody Death Study: Background
An increasing number of law enforcement agencies use conducted energy devices (CEDs) (the most common is Taser). At the same
time, the number of deaths associated with the technology also has increased.
NIJ commissioned a study to help understand whether the technology can contribute to or cause death and, if so, in what ways.
The study is one of several NIJ-funded research projects on Conducted Energy Devices.
The study, titled "Deaths Following Electro-Muscular Disruption" began in May 2006. The final report, Study of Deaths Following Electro-Muscular Disruption (pdf, 74 pages), was issued in 2010. See also an interim report (pdf, 21 pages).
The study's steering group was co-chaired by the NIJ Deputy Director for Science and Technology and a medical examiner appointed
by the National Association of Medical Examiners. The group also included representatives from the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention and the College of American Pathologists.
The steering group selected members of the mortality review panel described below.
A distinguished panel of doctors conducted mortality reviews on deaths associated with CEDs. Findings from an autopsy and
toxicological analysis were combined with findings from the scene investigation, post-exposure symptoms and post-event medical
care. The panel assessed any diseases the subject may have had to find out whether the disease may have contributed to or
caused the death.
The panel members included a cardiologist, an emergency medicine doctor, five medical examiners and a toxicologist. Consulting
specialists were available to the panel as needed and included an anesthesiologist, clinical pathologist, epidemiologist,
electrical engineer, neurologist and psychiatrist. The members are listed in the panel's final report (pdf, x pages).
NIJ is collaborating with the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) to conduct field research to support the
mortality reviews of deaths related to CEDs. The IACP will bring together experienced investigators to collect data that will
help the reviewers determine the cause of death and the possible role of CEDs in the deaths.
Date Modified: June 15, 2011