Thursday, June 12, 2008

Taser International verdict should concern city government

Posted By on Thu, Jun 12, 2008 at 9:51 AM

City Council, take note: Taser International, the largest producer of Taser weapons, suffered its first defeat in a product liability court case. TI lost a $6.2 million jury verdict last week over the death of a California man who died after being Tasered multiple times by police in Salinas, Calif. Bloomberg News reports that jurors found Taser International had failed to tell police in Salinas that repeated shots from Tasers could cause cardiac arrest. Charlotte city government, as we've noted before, needs to pay attention to national controversies over the use of Tasers, particularly after 17-year-old Charlotte grocery clerk Darryl Turner died in March after being Tasered by a police officer. Unlike the dead man in the California case, Turner was not tasered multiple times, but the point remains the same: there's now a chink in Taser International's armor. City Council should take note of the potential for lawsuits against the city in the future. The problem for police is that, to quote a supervisor in the Royal Canadian police, "we really don't fully understand and know the risks of Tasers." What we do know is that for a weapon that's so often touted as a "non-lethal alternative," Tasers sure seem to be killing a lot of people. They are potentially deadly weapons that, from all evidence, are being used too freely by many police around the country. Once again, I urge City Council to temporarily stop the use of Tasers by police until definitive research can be concluded regarding the weapon's full effects and possible complications. If Council members won't consider a halt in Taser use for fear of killing yet more of the citizens they represent, maybe the thought of a big fat lawsuit will change their minds.

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