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Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2019 Mar 9. doi: 10.1097/PAF.0000000000000471. [Epub ahead of print]

Penetration Depths of Conducted Electrical Weapon Probes Into Human Skull Phantoms.

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SWAT, City Police Zurich.
Firearms Division, Forensic Institute, Zurich, Switzerland.


Occasional case reports have described isolated cases of conducted electrical weapon (CEW) probes piercing the human skull. In an experimental setting, we examined whether these cases were just unfortunate incidents, how deeply such probes can pierce the skull, and whether firing distance and CEW probe type play a role in the skull-piercing capability.We fired 5 different CEW cartridges (XP 10.6 m, XP 7.6 m, smart 10.6 m, smart 7.6 m, and smart probe 7.6 m) from 4 different distances (0.5, 1, 2, and 4 m) at head phantoms made of either 5- or 7-mm-thick polyurethane spheres covered with a thin layer of gelatine and buckskin. The piercing depths were recorded by computed tomographic scanning.All tested cartridges managed to pierce the head phantoms. Piercing depths of up to 6.6 mm in the 5-mm heads and depths of almost 5 mm in the 7-mm heads were recorded. Deepest piercing depths were attained with firing distances of 2 m or less.Our results showed that all tested CEW probes are capable of piercing the skull and that shorter firing distances tend to lead to deeper piercing depths.

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