UNDATED (CBS) - Lawyers and doctors have argued for years about the physical impact of tasers, the common name for those electronic control devices used by police. This morning, Los Angeles station CBS-2 reports a police videotape is firing up that debate all over again.
June 4, just after midnight, video was captured by a camera mounted on a California highway patrol car of officers stopped to check on the welfare of a driver, 50-year-old Angela Jones of Los Angeles. On the video, you can hear "How much have you had to drink tonight? Nothing. Nothing? What about medications or drugs?"
Suspecting she might be "under the influence of drugs" the CHP officers questioned Jones for the next 15 minutes, then she refused to let the officers to look through her purse. On the video you can year her say, "I just don't feel like I want you to take purse from me."
Next on the video you can see a weapon in the officer's hand, a taser electronic control device. According to the arrest report, the CHP officer hit the trigger on his taser model X26 three times, sending three separate jolts into Jones chest. They pulled her out of the car, placed her on the sidewalk, and then realized she wasn't breathing.
One officer began performing CPR and Angela Jones came back to life. Heart surgeon Dr. Kathy Magliato says, "She is extremely lucky to be alive."
Magliato is president of the American Heart Association for Greater Los Angeles. She says, "It's really critically important that law officers understand that this taser is a weapon and it can kill people. It's awfully hard to exonerate the taser when you see a woman who clearly was fine up until the point she was tasered and then becomes unconscious loses her pulse and then is in sudden cardiac death."
The CHP declined CBs-2's request for an on camera interview, and offered a written statement which says in part, "The use of the taser in this incident appears to be within CHP policy."
The video records continuously for 40 minutes, and it I likely the most complete record of the events leading up to a cardiac arrest following the use of a taser electronic control device, but it is not the first time an incident like this was caught on tape.
It was March of 2008, Charlotte North Carolina, store security cameras captured 17-year-old Darryl Turner as police deployed a taser model X26 following an argument with a store manager. The teenager collapsed just off camera and later died. Pasadena attorney John Burton represented the Turner family in a civil trial that resulted in a jury award of more than $10 million. He is now preparing a lawsuit on behalf of Angela Jones. Burton says, "This device the taser as it's called is much more dangerous than the company indicates and that police believe, especially when its shot in the chest the electric current can take over the heart rhythm and cause cardiac arrest."
Taser International disputes this claim on their website saying "There is no reliable published data that proves taser ECDs negatively affect the heart". Taser refers to medical studies that conclude its devices do not harm the heart.
Taser International also provided a written statement which says, in part, "We are concerned about this incident and eagerly await more information."
Magliato says, "Absolutely not absolutely not we have an article right here, right out of the most prestigious cardiovascular journals in the country, this article discusses eight cases where people were tasered went into this ventricular fibrillation rhythm seven which died. So how can you tell me that using a taser is completely benign especially when we have it on videotape."
Angela Jones' criminal attorney Maria Cavaluzzi says, "She now has many memory deficits and cognitive issues."
Cavaluzzi would only let her client speak briefly due to the pending criminal charges, but Jones spoke just long enough to describe what little she remembers from that June night.
Her attorneys say toxicology reports show there were no illegal drugs or alcohol in Jones' system that night. She is facing criminal misdemeanor charges for resisting arrest and an infraction for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana.