Public Order Disturbance: Is the use of Non/Less - Lethal Weapon always Adapted? A French Case Report

Special Article - Forensic Medicine

Austin J Forensic Sci Criminol. 2016; 3(2): 1052.

Public Order Disturbance: Is the use of Non/Less - Lethal Weapon always Adapted? A French Case Report

Grenier F¹*, Chiron F¹, Eysseric H², Paysant F¹, Peoc’h M³ and Scolan V¹

¹Département de Médecine Légale, Université Grenoble Alpes, France

²Département de Pharmacologie et Toxocologie, Université Grenoble Alpes, France

³Département de Anatomie Pathologique, Université Grenoble Alpes, France

*Corresponding author: Grenier F, Département de Médecine Légale, Université Grenoble Alpes, Médecine Légale, Chu Grenoble, Boulevard de la Chantourne, 38700 La Tronche, France

Received: September 20, 2016; Accepted: October 27, 2016; Published: October 31, 2016


The scientific literature describes many injuries secondary to the use of nonlethal weapons such as Taser® or Flashball® devices. We relate here the cases of a woman and a man presenting a psychomotor agitation, victims of multiple Taser® or Flashball® firing. The man died. Based on these cases, we discuss the use of these non-lethal weapons in case of psychomotor agitation, disturbance of public order and Excited Delirium syndrome. Although the causality can’t be provenin the death of the man, these devices seem not adapted in these situations, exposing the target to wounds and possible sequelae. The training of the police officers or security agents to recognize these situations and use other solutions than the force and the non-lethal weapons should be promoted.

Keywords: Non-lethal weapons; Psychomotor agitation; Excited delirium syndrome; Flashball®; Taser®


According to the scientific literature, non-lethal weapons have been developed in most countries since the 1960s [1-3]. They have been used by the French police for about almost 20 years including Flash ball® and Taser®. French police is equipped by Flash ball® which firesa rubber ball (caliber 44 mm, weight 28 g) with a kinetic energy close to 200 J, causing blunt impact, and Taser X26 propelling two electrodes linked by two cables, causing an electric shock of 2 mA for 50 000 V.

As a remainder, those weapons were designed to incapacitate a violent and/or dangerous individual while minimizing the risk of permanent injuries or death: thus must be a temporary means to neutralize, not fatal in normal use. Several articles [3-5] have already been published about the potential risk of death by these less-lethal weapons.

In this article, we want to draw attention to the lack of response from people with psychomotor agitation and aggressive behavior, which gives rise to more Taser® and Flash ball® shots, increasing the risks of secondary effects.

Case Presentation

Case 1

The police was called because of a woman yelling at her window and threatening to cut herself with a knife. She was a 52 year-old, overweight woman, without treatment but formerly treated with Risperidone.

When police arrived (5 men plus 5 enforcements), she was extremely violent, trying to attack officers with a knife and a hatchet. She pushed them to the ground, cutting their protection shield.

She was shot by Taser® with one electrode in the chest and one in the right thigh, receiving a total 3 electric shocks and 4 times by Flash ball®, but she continued to threat the police. An officer had to shot with a real weapon, on the ground, behind her to stop her and permit to his colleagues to catch and after 5 minutes, they arrested her. She was brought to the emergency. She had the following wounds:

The blood analysis found a rhabdomyolysis with increased creatine kinase 486 UI/l (26-192). Ionogram and hemogram were normal.

She stayed one night in medical supervision in emergency and she was hospitalized in psychiatric hospital.

The police officers described a woman impossible to reason with, tireless, with an increased strength increased, insensitive to pain with a hot skin temperature.

Case 2

A 42 year old man presented a psychomotor agitation in the tramway. He insulted people around and he finally left the public transport to try to enter in a shop. Two security officers stopped him, but he became physically violent. They had lot of difficulties to control him, and one of the officers used a “Shocker” (a non-lethal device producing 50 000 V between two electrodes, only used in direct melee).

He was shocked three times in the right thigh without effect and after few minutes, he had a cardiac arrest and died despite the work of the emergency services.

On the corpse, we noted:

The histological examination showed septal myocardial subacute ischemia which might have caused cardiac rhythm disorders and heart failure (Figure 3A and B). The toxicology exams noted a sanguine concentration potentially lethal in cocaine (994 μg/L) (metabolites: Benzoyl Ecgonine: 6230 μg/L, Ecgonine Methyl Ester : 2020 μg/L) .

Citation: Grenier F, Chiron F, Eysseric H, Paysant F, Peoc’h M and Scolan V. Public Order Disturbance: Is the use of Non/Less - Lethal Weapon always Adapted? A French Case Report. Austin J Forensic Sci Criminol. 2016; 3(2): 1052. ISSN:2380-0801