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Maker of Taser expected to testify at inquiry the device is safe, well-studied

VANCOUVER - The co-founder and president of the company that makes Tasers is expected to tell a public inquiry today the weapon does not kill and contrary to previous criticism, it was not rushed to market with faulty research.


VANCOUVER - The co-founder and president of the company that makes Tasers is expected to tell a public inquiry today the weapon does not kill and contrary to previous criticism, it was not rushed to market with faulty research.

Taser International has gained a reputation for aggressively defending the Taser from any claims that the weapons have been responsible for deaths and Tom Smith will take that message to Justice Thomas Braidwood during today's hearing.

His testimony comes after an executive with a company that plans to market a competing device testified Friday that normally, a company would develop medical and safety data on a product, then test the it on animals and humans.

"In my humble opinion that's not how the current CEWs were developed and deployed. And that's why we're having problems today," Ageis Industries founder Ken Stethem told the inquiry.

A spokesman for Arizona-based Taser International says Stethem has completely mischaracterized the company's testing process.

"You're talking over a million people that have been exposed to a Taser application. We've been in this space for 14 years," says Steve Tuttle. "What he's coming up with is just patently false."

In an interview, he accused Ageis and Stethem of sour grapes and in turn, questioned Stethem's credentials to be levelling such accusations.

Also expected to testify today is Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh, who was the attorney general in British Columbia when Tasers were introduced to police for the first time in Canada in Victoria.

Dosanjh now sits on a parliamentary committee looking into Taser use and has said he believes the electronic devices are dangerous weapons that police should have, but only with proper training.

"I was told this would be a weapon of last resort before the gun," he told reporters following a committee hearing in January. "The policing community at least gave me the assurance, if I remember correctly . . . that it would be used sparingly."

Dosanjh said that appears not to be the case.

Smith was also testifying at that hearing and said Tasers have been tested on 600,000 police officers and more than 400,000 ordinary citizens like himself, and no serious health complications arose.

Like B.C.'s public inquiry, the Commons' all-party public safety committee is probing events around the death Oct. 14 of Robert Dziekanski.

The agitated Polish immigrant died soon after being shocked and subdued by RCMP officers at the Vancouver airport. His ordeal, caught on videotape by a civilian witness, unleashed international outrage.

 
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