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Friday, December 05, 2008

Quebec pulls older Tasers off streets, orders tests

December 5, 2008
CBC News

Quebec has ordered the mandatory testing of all stun guns manufactured prior to 2005, following reports that some discharge more electric current than its maker Taser International has acknowledged.

Quebec justice minister Jacques Dupuis announced Friday the province was pulling older weapons off the streets to test them, after an investigation by CBC and Radio-Canada found some Taser weapons tested in a random sampling emitted more electric current than manufacturing standards.

The tests, conducted by the U.S.-based lab National Technical Systems, used 41 X26 model Tasers from seven police departments in that country. Each weapon was fired six times.

Of the 41 stun guns tested, 10 per cent, or four of the weapons, delivered higher electrical currents than the manufacturer says is possible, some as much as 50 per cent higher than what Taser International promised.

The malfunctioning stun guns were manufactured prior to 2005.

Quebec's tests will also include a random sample of more recent stun gun models, Dupuis said, adding that Tasers use is still limited in the province. There are only 167 Tasers in use among Quebec's police forces, compared to 2,839 for the RCMP across the country, he said.

The province will also look at whether police forces are correctly using the weapons, Premier Jean Charest said.

The move is encouraging but a moratorium on the weapons shouldn't be ruled out, said Marvin Rotrand, a Montreal city councillor. "The broader questions are still on the table about whether we should be using this instrument at all," said Rotrand.

The councillor has been lobbying for a ban on Tasers for years, especially following the 2007 death of a Montreal man who was shocked six times by police while being arrested. Quilem RĂ©gistre's autopsy revealed he received 50,000 volts in six hits.

More than 20 people have died in Canada after being stunned by a Taser.

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