Taser manufacturer admits danger in training material
Published Tuesday, August 10, 2010 6:09PM PDT
In training material released earlier this year, Taser International quietly acknowledged that its conducted energy weapons can have a negative -- even fatal -- impact on humans.
In stark contrast to the company's stance in a petition filed in B.C. Supreme Court, the company training bulletin released May 1 warns that, "incapacitation involves risks that a person may get hurt or die."
Download the complete training bulletin here.
The training kit also suggests that, "risk of an ECD (electronic control device) application having a negative effect on a person's heart rate and/or rhythm is not zero."
The company cautions that Tasers could also increase the risk of death or serious injury for pregnant women, the elderly, small children, sick people or "low body-mass index (BMI) persons" -- i.e. skinny people.
Taser's training material was released two months before the company filed a petition asking that the findings of retired judge Thomas Braidwood's public inquiry into the weapons be thrown out.
In that complaint, the company had argued that Braidwood's conclusion that Tasers have the capacity to cause death was unreasonable, and unsupported by the medical evidence.
In July, the company's lawyer David Neave told reporters, "The medical science that has been produced, involving human research, has all pointed that way -- that the devices do not have the effect that the commissioner says that they did."
Taser's complaint was dismissed by Judge Robert Sewell on Tuesday.
"It is quite clear to me that there were presentations made to the commissioner by medical experts and others to the effect that such weapons can cause serious harm and even death in exceptional circumstances," Sewell wrote in his decision.
During an interview with CTV News following Sewell's decision, Braidwood read excerpts from Taser International's training manual acknowledging the dangers of its weapons.
"I don't know what I can say about that," he laughed. "They lost, and I'm happy."
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Peter Grainger