MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) – When photos began to surface of Memphis authorities carrying futuristic electrified shields that looked like props right out of the Marvel universe, Twitter users began labeling them “Taser shields” or “stun shields.” We now know a little bit more about how they ended up on the streets of Memphis.
The e-shields were spotted by a group of protesters who gathered in front of the Criminal Justice Center and blocked part of Poplar Avenue Thursday afternoon. The protest was in response to news that two of the three officers involved in the shooting death of 26-year-old Louisville woman Breonna Taylor would not be indicted.
WREG reached out to local officials and learned that the devices are designed to deliver non-lethal electric pulses, similar to a stun gun. Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner is reportedly calling the use of the e-shields by the sheriff’s office a “regrettable mistake.”
The Sheriff’s Office says members of Shelby County Jail’s Detention Response Team were deployed to assist with security. Members of that team displayed the two e-shields that began creating a buzz on social media.
The sheriff’s office says Bonner has “directed policy modifications that will prohibit those shields from being displayed or used outside of the Jail again.”
The sheriff’s office says it recently upgraded to the newest e-shields in July 2020 but has had other “shock shields” since a jail riot in the 1990s. Members of the Detention Response Team are reportedly the only team in the sheriff’s office permitted to use the shields, and their use is “highly regulated.”
The sheriff’s office says e-shields were bought with funds from the sheriff’s office jail operating budget. The shields reportedly cost $895 each.