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Taser Inc. Loses First Product-Liability Suit

Bloomberg: June 7 (Bloomberg) -- Taser International Inc., the largest stun-gun maker, lost a $6.2 million jury verdict over the death of a Califor

Bloomberg:

June 7 (Bloomberg) -- Taser International Inc., the largest stun-gun maker, lost a $6.2 million jury verdict over the death of a California man who died after police shot him multiple times with the weapon. The defeat is the first for Taser in a product- liability claim.

A San Jose, California, jury yesterday said Taser had failed to warn police in Salinas, California, that prolonged exposure to electric shock from the device could cause a risk of cardiac arrest. The jury awarded $1 million in compensatory damages and $5.2 million in punitive damages to the estate of Robert Heston, 40, and his parents. The jury cleared the police officers of any liability.

His parents sued Taser, alleging failure to warn of the dangers of the weapon, and Salinas police officers, claiming excessive force. The jury ``exonerated the police because they said the police didn't know repeated exposures could kill someone,'' Burton said. Read on...

I understand that law enforcement officials have difficult jobs and often find themselves in life or death situations. There are times where the use of these alternative weapons can save lives, but it seems, as in this case, as with others, if improperly used or in the wrong circumstances, they are deadly. Amnesty International has laid out some recommendations for the use of tasers, which I quite agree with; law enforcement agencies should treat them as deadly weapons:

Amnesty International calls on all governments and law enforcement agencies to either cease using TASERs and similar devices pending the results of thorough, independent studies, or restrict their use to situations where officers would otherwise be justified in resorting to deadly force where no lesser alternatives are available. Read on...

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