CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Friday, December 12, 2008

Canadian police pull old Tasers off streets

Police departments across Canada, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, are pulling older Taser stun guns off the streets following a new study that found the weapons can deliver more power than the manufacturer says is possible.

Police departments in the United States, however, appear to have taken no similar action.

Taser International responded to the study, commissioned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., with e-mails to police departments claiming the research is flawed.

"It is unfortunate that false allegations based on scientifically flawed data can create such uncertainty," Steve Tuttle, a Taser vice president, told The Arizona Republic. Taser also said researchers redid the test after the company pointed out errors.

However, Taser's assertions about specific data flaws contradict company documents and a letter from one of its top scientists. An audio recording also shows Taser was told that no retest took place.

"No, we never did (a retest). Absolutely not," said reporter Frederic Zalac of the CBC, which commissioned the study by a U.S. defense contractor and a Montreal biomedical engineer. "It is completely untrue."

The study, released last week, found that four of 44 stun guns of the X26 model used most by police departments fired jolts that were 47 percent to 58 percent higher than the manufacturer's specifications. The four high-firing weapons were sold to two police departments in 2004.

An accompanying medical analysis concluded that the higher jolts pose as much as a 50 percent risk of inducing cardiac arrest in some people and that stun guns firing at expected electrical levels pose some risk.

Taser maintains that shocks from its stun guns can't kill.

The president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, based in Washington, D.C., said Thursday that he was not aware of the study. Police officials with Valley departments, where most officers are armed with Tasers, have said they will evaluate it. [Mark Godsey]

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Posted by: Gary Baumgarten | Jan 6, 2009 5:06:56 AM

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