(WTNH) –They’re used by more than half of the police departments in the state. Stun guns are designed to make it possible for officers to get violent suspects under control.

“It’s a very effective weapon system, because it can quickly incapacitate a suspect, so we don’t have to punch them, kick them, elbow them with a baton,” said Sgt. Hank Minor of the Manchester Police Department.

But some, like New Haven defense attorney Norman Pattis, believe police officers are using them too often.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut says 16 people have died in police confrontations involving stun guns since 2005.

Pattis says there’s just not enough research yet on the effect these weapons can have on a person high on drugs, mentally compromised, or in a state of rage.

“There is a suggestion that application of this electrical force to a person already ‘fried’ so to speak, because of substance and suffering from mental illness can overwhelm their circuitry and cause death,” Pattis said.

“You know there’s some evidence, but trying to get evidence from the Taser industry is like trying to ask God for an eighth day, it’s just not going to happen.”

Not so, says Seargent Hank Minor of the Manchester Police department.

“I’m paid to win the fight, and protect the public,” Minor said.

A master instructor, Seargent Minor has trained more than a thousand police officers on how to use them correctly. He’s also taken no less than 18 stun gun shots himself.

Without getting overly technical, a stun gun locks up a suspects’ muscles for five seconds, giving an officer a window of opportunity to get control of the situation.

A spokesman for the leading maker of stun guns, Taser International, said that in Taser related incidents in Connecticut, there is not one case in which the taser is listed as the cause of death.

Minor says that unless a suspect is in a compromised state of health, a stun gun on its own doesn’t pack enough punch to kill.

“You may be sore and you’ll have two small pock marks in you, that kind of look like bee stings that heal up in no time,” Minor said.

But there is also the question of who is dying in stun gun incidents.

The NAACP says 13 of the 16 people killed in Connecticut were either black or Hispanic men.

“We know that they have been used as tools of torture by police officers, we’ve called for an end of lazy policing,” said Scot X. Esdaile, President of the Connecticut NAACP.

Last year, at the urging of the NAACP, ACLU and the Police Chiefs Association, a new law was passed requiring police departments to make a report every time a stun gun is used that must include the race of the person hit, and the extent of any injury caused.

“The data is somewhat raw, somewhat new and we’re looking at ways to improve it,” said Rep. Stephen Dargan of the Public Safety Committee.

While the state collects that data, the debate over the use of stun guns in Connecticut continues to heat up.