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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Worker affidavits allege Taser problems

December 9, 2008
CTV - ctvbc.ca

CTV News has obtained court documents that suggest thousands of Tasers may be defective. The documents are the words of insiders -- factory workers at the Arizona plant which makes the controversial devices.

The workers expressed concern about the stun-guns firing excessive electrical charges in affidavits signed for a 2005 lawsuit.

The lawsuit was brought against Taser International by its own shareholders, who were concerned the company had not disclosed safety deficiencies.

Some former Taser workers at the Scottsdale factory believed some of the weapons should not have been shipped out from the factory, and alleged that there was a serious lack of quality control in the factory.

One employee expressed concern in a signed statement about how the Tasers were firing inconsistently, stating "sometimes it [a Taser unit] would go really, really fast and sometimes real slow, sometimes it wouldn't do it at all and sometimes it wouldn't quit."

Another employee claimed defective units were shipped, but did not know how many because "Taser failed to closely weed out bad product."

According to the court documents, as many as 6,000 weapons were returned in one month alone because of alleged defects.

The former employees also claimed defective Tasers that had been returned were sawn open, the high voltage circuit boards were removed and "simply put in new casings with new serial numbers and sent out again without the flaws actually being rectified."

Taser settled the lawsuit for $20 million.

In Canada, Liberal public safety critic Ujjal Dosanjh expressed his opinion that the employee allegations are alarming

"If they weren't true, they wouldn't be settling for $20 million dollars with the claimants, with their own shareholders," said Dosanjh.

"If these allegations are correct, the manufacturer has been selling retreaded weapons in a sense, as original and brand new."

This comes as B.C.'s Solicitor General announced that B.C. municipal police forces will pull the plug on all Tasers acquired before 2006 over concerns they may generate shocks higher than the manufacturer specifies.

John van Dongen said Tuesday that municipal chiefs of police unanimously agreed to the remove the older shock weapons from service after testing showed the voltage sometimes exceeded the weapon specs.

B.C. Corrections, the provincial sheriff's service and transit police will also stop using the pre-2006 Tasers and van Dongen said RCMP, too, have called older Tasers in for immediate testing.

Earlier, concerns had led the RCMP to order testing for 24 older Tasers.

Quebec's justice minister ordered certain models of the Taser off that province's streets.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Peter Grainger

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