Commentary on deadly pepper spray: the fairy tale of the mild remedy

The police spray indiscriminately and a lot with pepper spray. The renewed fatalities show that it is high time to stop the frequent use.

Deadly for asthmatics, heart patients or people who take psychotropic drugs or drugs: Use of pepper spray at the G20 summit in Hamburg Photo: dpa

Pepper spray is still considered the supposedly milder means in police operations. Because it does not cause baton wounds or water cannon fractures, and because it cannot be used for the "final rescue shot". And because pepper spray is supposedly as "mild" as baby shampoo, it is used quite indiscriminately in police operations, freely according to the motto: "May I have a little more?" In 2010, for example, the police sprayed almost 2,200 cartridges during a single Castor operation.

The fact is suppressed that pepper spray, used on asthmatics, heart patients, and people who are under psychotropic medication or drugs, can quickly become a deadly weapon. Dangerous interactions occur here. Again and again, there have been deaths in the Federal Republic of Germany among these groups of people after the use of pepper spray.

Now two deaths within three days are a reminder of this fact, which has also been proven by numerous expert reports. If one looks into the history of the German pepper spray victims one can speak of quite typical deaths. But before the final evaluation it requires the complete medical clarification.

Every use of pepper spray is potentially fatal. This is why we need a stop

In almost no operation does the officer using pepper spray know whether his counterpart is in good health and has ingested anything. Every use of the active ingredient is therefore potentially lethal. This is precisely why the story of the milder means of coercion is just a fairy tale.

Precisely because the use of pepper spray has been inflated, we need a stop. If at all, pepper spray may only be used in cases of self-defense or emergency aid, but not in any situation. And until the consequences of the two deaths have been drawn, it would be best not to use it at all.

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