Company says Taser's power overstated

The media routinely reports that Tasers deliver 50,000 volts to the body, but the company that manufactures the devices has claimed that this is inaccurate. In response to criticism from civil libertarians, Taser International Inc. released a report earlier this year called “Deadly Rhetoric: How the ACLU of Northern California's Fight Against Law Enforcement Control Tools Endangers Communities” .

The report stated that the Taser X26's peak current of about three amperes is “far less than a strong static shock” , which can reach 37.5 amperes. “The weapon also delivers an open circuit arc of 50,000 volts in order to traverse clothing in cases where no direct contact is made,”  it stated. “As much as the media is transfixed by this number, the 50,000-volt is never delivered to the body. It is delivered 'across' thick clothing, but never through the body.” 

The report drew a comparison with a garden hose covered with plastic wrap over the end. “If you turn on the water, pressure will build up inside the hose. Once the plastic barrier breaks, the water will burst through and the pressure will drop to a much lower level,”  it stated. “In electrical terms, voltage is very similar to pressure. If there is an air gap between the TASER darts and the body of the target, the voltage or pressure inside the TASER wires will build up to a maximum of 50,000 volts....Just like the example of the garden hose, the voltage is instantly 'released' as soon as the gap is bridged. By the time the electrical current is inside the body, the voltage has dropped to 1,500 volts or less for the TASER X26.” 

The company also claimed that the duration of the shock is only 100 microseconds, which is too short a period to stimulate the heart.

Taser International has retained Vancouver lawyer David Neave, a former RCMP officer, as its legal counsel at the coroner's inquest into the death of Robert Bagnell, which began on September 5. Bagnell, 44, died on June 23, 2004 after Vancouver police used Tasers to subdue him in his bathroom at the Continental Hotel on Granville Street. Police stated that they used Tasers because the hotel fire alarm had gone off, and officers wanted to rescue him from the building. A toxicologist's report stated that Bagnell had lethal levels of cocaine in his bloodstream.

Bagnell's parents and sister have filed a lawsuit against Taser International, Vancouver police Chief Jamie Graham, and several officers, accusing police of “gross negligence” . The statement of claim alleges that more than 190 people have died after being shot by Tasers.

The Bagnell family's Vancouver lawyer, Cameron Ward, has reported on his Web site (www.cameronward.com/?) that 23 people have died “at the hands of BC police”  across the province since May 2002.

In 2005, there were 52 Vancouver police department “Use of Force”  reports relating to Tasers, according to a statement on VPD Web site (www.vpd.ca/?). In addition, there were 15 VPD “Use of Force”  reports concerning Taser use in 2006 up until April 30.

Comments