Deputy Chief of Police Dan Flippo told the Public Safety committee in December that following an internal affairs complaint made with SCPD in 2006 involving a Taser incident, there was a lawsuit "settlement". During Flippo's presentation, some of the guidelines for Taser use that Santa Cruz Police are instructed to follow were discussed. Two of the standards were: "Officers should generally not intentionally apply more than one TASER device at a time against a single subject," and "Officers should apply the TASER device for only one standard cycle and then evaluate the situation before applying any subsequent cycles".
The killing of 32-year-old Sean Arlt by Santa Cruz Police on October 16, 2016 involved the use of Tasers outside of the guidelines presently set forth by the police department. On that evening, Santa Cruz Police officers were dispatched to a house on Chase Street after residents called to report a disturbance at the home. When police arrived they say they confronted Arlt, who was advancing towards them with a gardening rake. Within 20 seconds they deemed him a threat, two different officers deployed their Tasers, and one opened fire with his revolver. All of this occurred within the first 20 seconds of interacting with Arlt. He was experiencing mental health issues at the time of his killing.
While SCPD's use of force policy presently classifies the use of Tasers as a "non-deadly force application," scientific literature suggests Tasers can be deadly. In 2014 the American Heart Association's Circulation journal published the article, TASER Electronic Control Devices Can Cause Cardiac Arrest in Humans.
Additionally, a 2017 report published by Reuters found that in the United States, 1,005 people had died after being Tased by police. In at least 153 of those cases, coroners or medical examiners, "cited the Taser as a cause or contributing factor in the death," according to Reuters.
The data set is small, but in 2019 Santa Cruz Police deployed Tasers disproportionately on African Americans, when compared to local population statistics, according to a chart presented to the City of Santa Cruz Public Safety Committee in December. The SCPD chart shows that 10% of the time Tasers were displayed by police, they were displayed on African Americans, and 6% of the time Tasers were used, they were used on African Americans. According to the most recent statistics, African Americans comprise less than 2% of the population in the City of Santa Cruz.