It certainly took them long enough but TASER International, manufacturer of the dangerous and sometimes deadly stun guns so popular with police and some private citizens, is now telling police to avoid aiming the 50,000 volt weapons at the chests of suspects to avoid heart issues. The warning is a stunning reversal of course for the company which up until now, has steadfastly denied that the weapons can cause cardiac arrest. The company now admits that there is a small risk of an "adverse cardiac event," but still claims that the weapons do not cause cardiac arrest. According to one report, the warning was issued because the company wants users to "avoid controversy" by having them avoid targeting the chest area.
Interestingly, the warning does not appear on the home page of the company’s website. What does appear prominently on the home page? An offer to upgrade to a semi-automatic Taser. Yes, you read that correctly; a semi-automatic Taser. Here is the intro:
The TASER Trade-In Program is a seamless way to trade your existing TASER® X26™ and/or ADVANCED TASER® M26™ technology and apply it toward the purchase of a new TASER® X3™ Semi-Automatic ECD. Act soon as this trade-in offer ends 12/31/2009.
And a description:
The TASER® X3™ is a revolutionary new multi-shot ECD that can engage multiple targets, display Warning Arcs™ while loaded, and deliver a calibrated Neuro Muscular Incapacitation (NMI) pulse that results in improved safety.
I’ll let the "results in improved safety" claim slide for now because taking a shot at it is too easy given the injury and death history with TASER International products. So back to the warning. When I first looked at the website, I assumed such an important safety warning would appear on the home page in a prominent place. I was wrong. And then I didn’t think it was on the website at all. I was wrong again. I dug a bit and the warning is there – click on "Legal" and then on "Law Enforcement Warnings." Unbelievable. Let’s hope the media and other sources of safety information are more effective in getting the word out about this warning.
Bret Hanna of Wrona DuBois in Utah, focuses exclusively on litigating plaintiffs’ medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has represented clients in state and federal courts, in mediations, and in administrative proceedings in Michigan and Utah since 1991.