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Michigan teenager dies after police Taser him
WASHINGTON (AFP) — A 15-year old boy died Sunday [March 22, 2009] in Michigan after police used a Taser stun gun to subdue him, police said Monday.
An investigation was opened and an autopsy ordered with police saying it was not clear whether Brett Elder's death was directly linked to the Taser incident.
Police said the trouble began when three police officers were summoned to quell a fight between two males at an apartment in Bay City, Michigan.
"After several attempts to diffuse the sitaution with the subjects, one of the male subjects attempted to go after other occupants of the apartment and attempted to fight the officers," the police said.
"The male subject was then tasered and taken into custody," police said.
Cindy Hender, Elder's aunt, witnessed the incident and told local television her nephew "was flopping around and looked like a fish out of water ... His whole body was bent over."
Police said medical personnel were summoned "due to the subject's reactions," and Elder was rushed to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Deputy police chief Thomas Pletzke told WNEM-TV said Elder was not handcuffed when he was Tasered.
A police officer was suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.
Amnesty International said Elder's death added to the concern over taser use by cops in a "non-life threatening situation."
"While we don't have full details of what happened, there have to be ways of restraining an unarmed teenager other than using electro-shock weapons," said Angela Wright, US researcher at Amnesty International.
Amnesty said Elder's was the second minor killed by taser use this year in the United States, and number 315 since the weapon was first introduced in June 2001.
"Taser guns are not the safe weapons they are portrayed to be," said Wright. "A full investigation into their safety needs to be carried out before more people suffer the consequences of their misuse."