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Monday, May 12, 2008

Chair of Taser International testifies the stun gun is safe, effective

May 12, 2008
Brian Hutchinson, Canwest News Service (National Post)

VANCOUVER -- Attempting to counteract media "sensationalism" and convince skeptics that his company's stun gun technology is a safe and effective policing tool, the chairman of Taser International Inc. delivered a slick and speedy presentation at a provincial inquiry today.

Tom Smith motored through a well-honed defence of his company's line of conducted energy weapons, better known simply as Tasers. Inquiry commissioner Thomas Braidwood, a retired B.C. judge, suggested at one point in the morning that Mr. Smith slow down, noting that "this is not an endurance competition."

Flashing statistics and excerpts from myriad studies onto a projection screen, Mr. Smith insisted that Tasers are safer than other police tools, such as batons, pepper spray, and firearms, when it comes to subduing and apprehending criminal suspects and violent individuals.

College students are as likely to receive an injury playing basketball, as is a person to receive an injury from a Taser, he maintained.

Mr. Smith presented a number of videos that showed police officers using Tasers on deranged individuals. In each case, the person was subdued, apparently without sustaining any serious injuries.

He denied that Tasers can lead to heart failure, something suggested when the inquiry began last week.

The inquiry was formed after the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver International Airport last October. Mr. Dziekanski had been acting erracticaly before RCMP officers shot him with their Taser device. He died in their custody.

Liberal M.P. Ujjal Dosanjh sat in the inquiry gallery this morning as Mr. Smith spoke. He will give a presentation this afternoon.

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