June 14, 2011
Kevin Martin, Calgary Sun
Startled, a Calgary judge nearly jumped from her chair Tuesday when she thought a witness had activated a Taser gun.
But Rick Smith, CEO of Taser International Inc., assured provincial court Judge Heather Lamoureux the weapon he held on the witness stand was completely harmless.
Smith, using a Taser borrowed from the Calgary Police Service, was showing Lamoureux how the weapon is deployed by peace officers.
But when he clicked a disposable cartridge which contained the weapons darts and wires, Lamoureux jumped back.
“Ew, did you load it?” the judge said.
“No, because the battery is not in,” Smith said.
Smith, who founded the company which makes the law enforcement weapon, was testifying at a fatality inquiry into the death of a man in police custody.
Lamoureux is presiding over the hearing to determine what, if any measures, might be implemented to prevent deaths in the future like that of Gordon Walker Bowe’s.
Bowe’s November, 2008 death is being blamed on excited delirium syndrome, a drug-induced condition.
The 30-year-old was shot by police with a Taser when they found him in a vacant house under construction in the 500 block of 42 St. S.E., although the device didn’t conduct an electrical shock.
Smith testified that while there has been significant litigation commenced over the use of Tasers in the U.S., only one case in 140 that have been settled found any fault for his company.
In that instance, the weapon was determined by a jury to be a 15% contributor in the plaintiff’s death, he told inquiry lawyer Jo-Ann Burgess.
But while his company now instructs cops to aim towards the abdomen of suspects, instead of chest areas to avoid the risk of cardiac arrhythmia, there’s no evidence linking Tasers to heart attacks.
The hearing, which can’t find blame, resumes Wednesday.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
June 14, 2011