HUMAN rights groups across the North have called on the PSNI to suspend the introduction of a controversial stun gun following the weekend death of a man in England in disputed circumstances.The PSNI was heavily criticized earlier this month when it announced that it was going ahead with the introduction of controversial taser stun guns, despite opposition from the North's Policing Board.However, Chief Constable Hugh Orde said he was going ahead with the introduction of tasers as it was an "operational matter."Human rights groups pointed to the fact that more than 250 people have died as a result of tasers in North America.Last weekend 31-year-old Justin Petty became the first man in Britain to die as a result of an incident involving tasers. He was shot with a taser after he allegedly threatened police officers before running back into his home where he was discovered with "self-inflicted injuries."Relatives for Justice spokeswoman Clara Reilly, whose group campaigns against the use of plastic bullets in Northern Ireland, called for an immediate halt to the introduction of tasers."In recent months we have been forced by Chief Constable Hugh Orde and others to listen to arguments about the alleged non-lethal status of tasers and undermining international human rights arguments, stating that our concerns are 'exaggerated' and, most sickeningly, how these weapons will enhance' policing here."This is repugnant. We know that a weapon that has caused more than 70 deaths in the U.S. and which delivers 50,000 volts of electricity is not a step forward for our society," Reilly said.Amnesty International has also called for more research to be undertaken before tasers are introduced in Northern Ireland."At the minute we are not sure the taser can be a lethal weapon," said spokeswoman Fiona Smyth.However, the PSNI said it intends to go ahead with the introduction of the stun gun."Taser remains a preferable alternative to shooting someone with live ammunition, where the risk to life or serious injury remains much greater," a spokesperson for the force said.
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