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Salem Deputy police chief injured in Taser demostration

Salem's Deputy Police Chief is injured during a police training demonstration of the use of taser darts.
SALEM -- The deputy police chief had to be hospitalized after he suffered head injuries during a demonstration of the effectiveness of Taser darts, officials said.

Deputy Chief Ed Boyd was taken to Salem Hospital after he hit his head when he toppled backwards and just missed a protective mat after being shocked with Taser darts Thursday, said police Lt. John Hoffmeister.

Boyd, who volunteered for the demonstration, was standing in the middle of several protective mats with people on each side of him.

Another officer, standing several feet away, aimed for Boyd's back and warned him when he was about to shoot. After Boyd was struck, he stiffened up and fell straight back.

Sgt. Jeff Barnes, a Taser trainer, said less than a second elapsed from the time Boyd was shocked and when his head hit the floor. "It just wasn't humanly possible for the officers to react fast enough to catch him," Barnes said.

Salem police have been considering adding the Taser to their nonlethal arsenal for the past six months. The demonstration was being taped for training so officials were able to review the incident.

In future demonstrations, trainers will use more mats, police said.

Mats for The People too? 16.Nov.2003 08:50

CatWoman

Salem PD. Weren't they one of the gestapo units that brought an armored tank (a TANK!) to the bush protest a few months back? Perhaps some well meaning good citizens should start inquiring into how the city of Salem can afford all this sci-fi gear to keep the people down, when schools and social services are having to make do with bake sales to buy pencils.

In any event, the video tape of this ridiculous training accident will be a good exhibit for anyone who is injured with a taser later. This is clear evidence that the police department is fully aware of the potential for serious injury, and that they understand that safety mats are necessary when deploying these "less lethal" weapons. Since we've seen officers all over the country using this kind of weapon with abandon, usually on peaceful demonstrators who are not offering any threat, perhaps they will need to add hundreds of safety mats to their arsenal.

I can't help but make one last observation: Didn't Officer McCollister say he tazed Kendra James before he shot her? But he had to shoot because the taser had no effect on her?
Hmmmm.

my considered comment on this... 16.Nov.2003 09:16

Old Farmer

OOPS! almost tazed the oink outta that dude, so back to the oink-tank to retink this taser business!

. 16.Nov.2003 10:22

.

It was Vancouver who has and brought the armoured vehicle

About the tanks 16.Nov.2003 14:47

Lasso

Actually, Salem also brought at least one tank. I saw armored assault vehicles from both Salem and Vancouver, and another that appeared to be from Tigard, though I couldn't tell for sure.

Salem had one too 16.Nov.2003 14:54

...

Salem and several other towns -- including Vancouver -- contributed takes and assault vehicles to intimidate people when bush came to town. That really sucks.

tasers in Miami 16.Nov.2003 15:56

White Lilac

Just in time for the FTAA protests ...

Broward county police taser 15 year old girls:
 link to www.miami.com

.... and apparently have killed a man by tasering him:
 link to www.miami.com

Closer to home (north-central WA):
Washington cops raid wrong home, taser man;
 http://www.infoshop.org/inews/stories.php?story=03/09/17/3911675

Articles reposted below:

Posted on Sun, Jun. 29, 2003
Cops' use of Tasers is scrutinized

BY NATALIE P. McNEAL
 nmcneal@herald.com

When Marc Dixon's wife set off the panic alarm -- accidentally, he says -- at 3:33 a.m., Miramar police arrived in minutes and ordered him out onto the porch.

Unpleasantries were exchanged. Police say Dixon, 35, cocked his fists in a ''threatening manner.'' Dixon, who is 6-feet-2 and 178 pounds, denies this. What nobody disputes is that Dixon was zapped with 50,000 volts from a department-issued M26 Taser. As he lay on the porch helpless during the Feb. 16 confrontation, Dixon was handcuffed and booked for assaulting an officer.

Dixon joined the growing list of Miramar residents who have been jolted by the police department's arsenal of Tasers, a type of stun gun that shocks its targets with electricity, briefly paralyzing them. The Taser, which fires two electrically charged darts, is categorized as a nonlethal alternative to use of a firearm.

Since Miramar started using Tasers in 2002, the devices have been used 38 times. In every case, a review by supervisors found the actions justified.

Some, including the human rights group Amnesty International, wonder whether police officers may be becoming too trigger-happy with Tasers, especially when dealing with unruly children. And based on the track record -- 38 deployed, 38 times upheld, in the case of Miramar -- they also question how rigorously officers' Taser use is being reviewed.

''As a lawyer, I'm not surprised that no one wants to take responsibility for wrongful actions that have caused harm to those that they have sworn to serve and protect,'' said Levi Williams, an attorney for a 15-year-old girl who was Tasered by Miramar police. ``But as a citizen, I'm infuriated and frustrated that officers have been upheld in their wrongful conduct.''

Miramar police can use a Taser to defend against use of unlawful force, to arrest a combative or resisting suspect, to ward off attack from a vicious animal, or to stop a fleeing suspect. In certain cases, such as an attacker wielding a knife or blunt object, Tasers can save lives by enabling police to subdue the attacker without drawing a gun.

After an officer deploys a Taser, he must be debriefed by a supervisor, said Miramar police spokesman Bill Robertson. The supervisor, normally a sergeant, files a one-page ''response to resistance'' memo stating what happened. A copy is placed in an internal affairs file.

Three days after the Feb. 16 Taser incident, Dixon filed an administrative complaint. ''At NO point did I disrespect or show resistance,'' Dixon said in his complaint.

On March 11, Chief Melvin D. Standley sent Dixon a letter stating that the department ''has completed its investigation into your complaint'' and inviting him to call if he wanted the result.

The investigation consisted of the ''response to resistance'' memo done the day of the confrontation. It found no fault with the officer's actions.

''The day that the incident happened, they felt it was within policy,'' explained Sgt. Jeff Levine, of the internal affairs office. ``It wouldn't have prompted another investigation.''

Some other departments have a more formal process for reviewing use of Tasers.

In Coral Springs, a board made up of officers, detectives and deputy chiefs reviews use of force by officers about every two months, said Sgt. Rich Nicorvo of Coral Springs police.

The Hollywood Police Department, which has used Tasers 66 times since 2001, investigates use of force by having the command staff review the case and then having the internal affairs department conduct its own investigation. Internal affairs staff calls witnesses to find out what happened, said Detective Carlos Negron, spokesman of the Hollywood department.

More rigorous review procedure or not, the result in Hollywood has been the same as in Miramar. In all 66 cases, the police officer's use of a Taser was deemed proper.

The case of the 15-year-old girl has put Miramar and its Taser practices under closer scrutiny.

On the afternoon of Oct. 3, police were flagged down by a school bus driver who said her passengers, from Miramar High, were throwing paper. The driver stopped the bus. An officer entered the vehicle and started to pull an alleged instigator from the bus. Wrong student, said Chiquita Hammonds, who was not involved in the ruckus.

Chiquita was ordered off the bus. She complied, but then, by her account, she informed police she would walk home to do her homework. Police wanted her to stay. According to police, Chiquita was told she was under arrest. An officer grabbed her arm. The police report says Chiquita spun around and struck a second officer across the face, causing his sunglasses to fly off.

Chiquita was wrestled to the ground and pepper-sprayed, then Tasered, after she allegedly continued to resist. She was charged with resisting arrest without violence and battery on a law enforcement officer.

''The conduct of the Miramar police officers involved in this matter is the type of conduct that is impeding good relationships with the minority community, not only in Broward but nationwide,'' said Williams, who, like Chiquita, is black.

However, not all of those Tasered by Miramar police are minorities. Of the 38 cases on record over the past two years, 20 of the Taser targets were identified as black, 10 were identified as white and one Hispanic. In the seven remaining cases, Tasers was used to subdue dogs.

After the Chiquita Hammonds incident, Amnesty International wrote a letter to the police chief noting the organization's displeasure with Tasering a 15-year-old.

Chiquita intends to sue the police department, her attorney says. But first she must answer the criminal charges.

Bob Jarvis, a law professor at Nova Southeastern University, said cases like Chiquita's merit a closer look.

''The question is if they really needed to stop her,'' Jarvis said, ``or was it a cop who didn't appreciate being ignored.''



Posted on Thu, Nov. 13, 2003
PEMBROKE PINES
No quick ruling on 'Taser' death
The Broward medical examiner says it could take weeks for toxicology results to return in the case of the man subdued by police after he began pounding on cars.
BY JASMINE KRIPALANI
 jkripalani@herald.com

It may be take weeks for pathologists to determine why a Davie man died after being subdued with a Taser device by Pembroke Pines police, Broward Medical Examiner Dr. Joshua Perper said Wednesday.

The cause on the death certificate of Kerry Kevin O'Brien, 31, will read: ''Pending further studies,'' Perper said.

'It's going to require statements from witnesses and how long after the `Tasering' there was a problem,'' Perper said. ``It's a fairly complex case, and it will be thoroughly investigated.''

Perper said he expected the toxicology reports to take several weeks to be completed.

Pembroke Pines police offered little new information Wednesday about O'Brien's death, which occurred Monday evening.

The family hired a personal injury lawyer, saying they hoped to get to the bottom of what caused O'Brien's death.

''I spoke to [O'Brien] that morning and he was great,'' O'Brien's older sister Lauren told reporters. ``He wanted to . . . watch Monday Night Football .''

O'Brien never got to watch the game. After taking a swim in the community pool of the Falcon's Lea neighborhood in Davie's Ivanhoe subdivision, O'Brien made his way to Sheridan Street and Northwest 146th Avenue in Pembroke Pines. It was about a mile from his home.

Pembroke Pines police soon received a report that a man wearing only blue swim trunks was beating on cars at the intersection.

Officers tried to control O'Brien with a Taser, a hand-held device that shoots small, dart-like probes attached to wire cables and emits 50,000 volts of electricity in short bursts to disable a person.

Pembroke Pines Fire Rescue took O'Brien to Memorial Hospital West, where he was pronounced dead.

Asked whether she blamed police for her brother's death, Lauren replied: ''No, I can't blame anyone. It's an absolute mystery,'' she told reporters outside her home.

She said the family hired Gregory M. Dell, a personal injury lawyer in Hollywood, because they hoped witnesses would come forward.

''We're waiting to hear from the [medical examiner's] office as to the cause of death,'' Dell said. ``And until we know that, we really don't know what happened.''

Pembroke Pines Mayor Alex Fekete said he expected the family to sue the city, and declined to talk about the case.

''When they take that step,'' Fekete said of the family's hiring a lawyer, ``that is an indication that they are intending to file a lawsuit.''

Pembroke Pines Police Capt. Keith Palant said it was common for officers to feel the effects of a Taser during training.

''If we thought it was dangerous, we wouldn't allow our officers to do it,'' Palant said.

Steve Tuttle, a spokesman for Arizona-based Taser International, the manufacturer, said the devices are used thousands of times a year without causing permanent harm. He said he knew of no cases in which a medical examiner had ruled that a Taser had contributed to a death.

He said the company did know of 30 cases in which a drug-addled suspect died after being subdued with a Taser. But in almost all of the cases, authorities ruled that the deaths were caused by the drug.

Tuttle said animal experiments proved that drugs combined with electricity from the Taser would not cause death.

Perper said earlier this week that he was not so sure. Though the role of the Taser in Monday's incident, if any, had not been determined, Perper said he thought that in general a Taser could kill someone if that person were already suffering from heart disease. But he said such an incident would be very rare.

Meanwhile, Lauren O'Brien said the family did not even realize her brother had left Monday night. O'Brien lived with his mother, Rosemary, and his sister Lisa in the 6300 block of Plymouth Lane. He delivered pizzas for a living, Lauren said.

O'Brien's family said he been diagnosed with depression and had been on anti-depressant medication. They said that was the only drug he took.

Neighbors described O'Brien as a friendly person who helped others.

''I was cleaning my driveway with a scrub brush, and he had a pressure cleaner and offered to help,'' said his neighbor Edward Schneider, 59, a retired AT&T technician. ``I'm shocked.''

Added another neighbor, Josie Vidaurrazaga: ``It seems so out of character for him to cause a disturbance like that. It's so unusual.''

Lauren said she knew her brother was now in a better place.

''I feel really sad. He was my only brother. He was an angel. All I can think is that God needed a good angel, and He got a good angel,'' she said.

Family members asked witnesses to any part of the incident to call Dell at 954-920-7932.


Cops Raid Wrong Home, Taser Man
Sheriff's Deputies Break Down Wrong Door
POSTED: 5:33 a.m. EDT September 17, 2003 UPDATED: 9:09 a.m. EDT September 17, 2003

OMAK, Wash. -- Okanogan County sheriff's deputies seeking a person on outstanding warrants broke down the door to the wrong home and then jolted a man with a Taser in front of his wife and child.

Sheriff Frank Rogers says the bottom line is officers messed up.

No one was seriously injured in the 4:50 a.m. Thursday incident.

Rogers says he delayed releasing information on the botched search until Monday so he could investigate the matter.

The heavily armed officers apparently burst into the wrong trailer at the Homestead Trailer Park in Omak.

The man they were seeking, 30-year-old Joseph M. Parisien, heard the ruckus and tried to escape from another trailer.

He was arrested without incident.

 http://www.local6.com/news/2489866/detail.html

this business of tanks...who's idea is that? 16.Nov.2003 16:24

questioner

I'm appalled to learn that there were tanks out for Bush's visit's and that all these piddly police departments have them,
and then they show up for such macho-madness. I did not know this kind of craziness was taking place. It alarms me
that our Mayor, who is suppose to be Commissioner of Police, and the command structure of the Portland Police are
so glib in their assurances that they are there to "protect and serve" us, when such silliness as tanks so clearly shows
they are more concerned of protecting their damned asses against us. Or, rather as they precieved us to be. For this
kind of paranoia to collective exist amongst, then surely it indicates they've got damned reasons to fear us. I wonder
just WHAT it is that they've done to us that they fear us so? The tanks were not for protecting Bush, for given that these
reknowned clowns--that so many are becoming--have a history of "overreacting", can u imagine the US Secret Service
allowing them to use such should Bush have come under attack? Hell, they'd have done more damage to him with a
tank than anything any potential Bush-killer could have. It's madness! Shouldn't we leave tanks to the military,as it'd
seem to me they've far better trained in their use? Why be so stupid as to have these things intimidating a populace,
when sooner or later, the more they're brought out, they will indeed alienate larger segments of the populace; and in-
deed more especially so, once the WHAT (they've done to us) becomes better known. These people are crazy! Hell,
this started out asking a question, and leaves begetting far more. Ha! I get it>>>that's why they use the tanks on us,
as they don't want us asking questions like this! Arise people, ask your questions and do your duty!

... 16.Nov.2003 17:02

this thing here

"A number of highly trained police officers tasked with providing security for President Bush on his visit to Portland today were injured in an apparent accident. According to reports, an officer's Tazer stun gun accidentily went off inside the amored tank he was riding in, hitting the driver of the tank in the left buttock. The shock caused the driver to twitch and shake unncontrollably, and to lose control of the tank. The tank, with it's driver unable to control muscle functioning, swung wildly about, and smashed at high speed through a Wal-Mart, a McDonalds, a Starbucks, a donut shop, and covered in coffee and donuts, finally came to rest inside a GMC Hummer dealership. An investigation into the incident is underway."

CatWoman has got we to thinking... 16.Nov.2003 20:25

thinker

I found CatWoman's opening comment to be pregnant with eye-opening enlightenment. Back in May, when this creepy
McCollister-character killed Kendra James, there was a lot that didn't make any sense. Of course, with all the City's &
PPD's disinformation, it was hard to keep up with really what was truth, fiction, and self-serving lies. Something about
it all always struck me as a bold face lie. I thought I could figure it all out, but now that CatWoman has brought this up,
I realize that it was the issue of the Taser that never made any sense. The truth has to be that he never used it, cause
he didn't have it out to begin with. Had he had it out and used it, it would not have malfunctioned as he claimed, and
his two lying pals proclaimed. We've been handed a lie and this creep got by with murder. Figure it out yourselfs! It
makes so much sense that he never had it in his hands in first place, as if he had, it would have rendered Ms. James
in such condition as to be unable to proceed further with driving away. We've been lied to by this guy, his pals, and
the bureau covered-up, and the City officials had no choice but to go along with it once they realized it so. We must
demand that this McCollister NOT be allowed back on this police force when his suspended time off is completed.
For this new Chief Foxworth to allow the guy back, is to further erode our trust in him to be the one to bring the much
needed changes. We must keep his feet to the fire and not let him, or Katz, have a moment's rest till they've fired this
McCollister (and perhaps go after those other two who so obviously lied for McCollister)....so, feet to the fire, folks!

to thinker ... 16.Nov.2003 22:17

White Lilac

It wasn't that the taser malfunctioned, but that the probes didn't pierce her skin, preventing the "desired effect" from occurring. Kendra was wearing a thick jacket that prevented the taser's probes from penetrating to her skin. (Actually, I've read that one probe did pierce her skin, but both probes need to in order to 'complete the circuit.')

See  http://www.portlandpolicebureau.com/KendraJames.html
 http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2003/07/267384.shtml

So ... I don't think we've necessarily been lied to about this. While I wasn't there, all taser manufacturers acknowledge that if a suspect is wearing very thick clothing, the taser can fail to penetrate all the way through the skin.

If we've been told a lie about the taser, to me it's a plausible one.

Facts folks, not speculation 16.Nov.2003 22:48

Factfinder

McCollister did not have a Taser, Reynolds did. McCollister said he tried to use pepper spray but that it didn't spray. Reynolds said he tried to use his Taser but it didn't work. The Taser can be used by shooting the barbs or by touching the person directly. I don't know which method he tried, but there are a variety of reasons either option can fail. At point blank range the barbs will hit too close together...it is the connection of the ciruit between them that locks up the muscles so you need as large a spread as possible to affect the most muscle groups. Barbs can also fail to penetrate thick jackets or clothing. Direct contact can have the same problem with thick clothing, and has the added problem of having to be close enough to touch the person. In this case, if we put McCollister in the door of the car struggling with James, there isn't a lot of room for Reynolds to squeeze in there and try to get an effective use of the Taser.

If you haven't read the transcripts of the interviews with the officers that were up on the Oregonian website and you're trying to make an informed arguement about what happened, you are short changing yourself.

Correction 17.Nov.2003 00:06

Hello

If you are reading the Oregonian and listening to po-pos, and you're trying to make an informed argument about anything, you are short changing yourself.

Salem PD, Tanks 17.Nov.2003 00:52

Bison Boy

I live in Salem, and I think we have a substantially better police force than Portland and Eugene. They're professional, and they've been good to protesters of all stripes. On the downside, thy've had a run of bad luck lately. Not only did the deputy chief get injured in this taser test, but the chief himself got hit by a car a couple weeks back:  http://news.statesmanjournal.com/article.cfm?i=69431

As for police tanks, that's a misnomer. A tank is a heavily armored and heavily armed vehicle, usually tracked, and is expressly military. What police departments have (or borrow) are lightly armored and lightly armed, if they're even armed at all. Here's the Register-Guard article on the one used in the infamous Eugene drug-raid fiasco of last year:

 http://www.registerguard.com/news/2002/12/05/1a.drugraidside.1205.html

The lightest vehicle that can reasonably be called a "tank" listed at fas.org:
 http://fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/land/m24.htm

Admittedly, this may be too fine a distinction for most people to worry about. But if someone persists in calling these vehicles "tanks" instead of "armored cars" or the like, those who know better will persist in thinking they sound like a total doofus. :)

but then again... 17.Nov.2003 02:13

repeater

but then again, those who really know the difference may indeed by the doofus dudes, as those who are decent
don't give a damned for the distinction between the two...they're both tools for the fascist pigs no matter the fine
distinction. so, there...

Factfinder is wrong 17.Nov.2003 09:55

heres why

Factfinder seems to justify the McCollister trio by way of saying that since it's on the OREGONIAN's website, then it
is somehow the truth. Admittedly there is a transcript of the official version, but one actually gains nothing in way of
truth by reading it. Why? Do recall that the primary participants (the McCollister trio) meet together to share a meal
after the event, and thus had sufficient time to put together a "self-serving version" that could later make it's way to
being the "official version". So, just who is being shortchanged when they refer to such documentation that has so
thick a blue haze about it? Folk's when it come to this matter, we need to let our true sense of morality dictate, as
opposed to letting some ideology shout it down. The TRUTH is there for all to see, if only they'll actually look for it.

A tank is a tank is a tank 17.Nov.2003 10:45

notta tank

Hey! Does anyone have a picture of any of the three tanks I saw at the Bush visit? Because those fuckers were TANKS. I saw at least three tanks pointed at the American people, and I saw several other weird vehicles that I would call urban assault vehicles. I know people photographed them, I saw pictures of them in the video from the pdx indy video collective. Can someone post a picture?

yes, I saw tanks on tv back in August 17.Nov.2003 11:03

New Yorker

You're right, they were actually tanks. I remember the very brief tv coverage of Bush's visit to Portland back in August,
as I think it was, that was shown on CBS or ABC, whichever one I was watching that evening. The idea of tanks was
what struck me as "something is out of place in this picture?" and left me feeling cold for your leaders who like to be
foisting themselves off as some of America's most liberal/progressive. Don't think so, with tanks pointed at citizens!
You people ought to raise hell with your local leaders for letting this happen, and not castigate the Bushies for being
the assholes they are. Go after those community leaders there that supported this tank business aimed at citizens!

Actual tanks? 17.Nov.2003 17:05

Bison Boy

Well, perhaps I am mistaken. No armored vehicle I have ever seen in US police use could be called a tank, but I haven't seen everything. :) Anybody find the photos?

The use of National Guard vehicles in matters of police security is a matter of concern, whether they are used for drug raids or protester intimidation. But even so, that's still just the National Guard... local troops largely under local control. This is not a new thing at all. Although it might be disturbing, it's not really all that unusual historically.

When the Army or Marines show up at a protest or in a police action, in vehicles or on foot, that's a different matter. Generally speaking, they have no business being mobilized against the citizenry. Let's hope it stays that way.

Tasers: brought to you by pdx venture capitalists 17.Nov.2003 23:17

White Lilac

Talk about ironic ... I just learned today that a Portland company (Paulson Investment Company, 811 SW Naito Parkway, Suite 200) put up the cash to allow Taser International to go public back in 2001.

This article is reposted from the NY Times:


By TERESA RIORDAN
Published: November 17, 2003

Taser International
Rick Smith, the chief executive of Taser International, turned an interest in self-defense into a successful business.



Taser International
The M26 Taser fires two barbed hooks attached to wires, up to 21 feet, delivering a 5-second jolt of electricity.


n 1995, Rick Smith, then a 25-year-old entrepreneur with a newly minted master's in business administration, got a telephone call from an official with the Czech National Police Academy. Could Mr. Smith come to Prague to demonstrate his new nonlethal gun?

He flew right out and, after delivering a bold sales pitch about how it could subdue a suspect, he asked for a volunteer. A police cadet stepped forward. Mr. Smith confidently aimed and fired. But instead of collapsing on the floor as others had done during tests, the cadet kept charging Mr. Smith and enveloped him in a bear hold.

"It was the most embarrassing and humiliating day of my life," Mr. Smith recalled. "If those guys had a fruit and vegetable cart, I would have been pelted with tomatoes."

Life is better for Mr. Smith these days. Last month, he received United States patent No. 6,636,412, a broad patent covering a new, effective version of the nonlethal gun, which is being used by law enforcement agencies across the United States. Last year, Taser International, his company in Scottsdale, Ariz., had $10 million in sales, and the company said it is on schedule to double its business by the end of this year.

Named for the Thomas A. Swift Electric Rifle, a fixture of Tom Swift books from the 1930's, the first Taser was invented in 1974 by Jack Cover, who was a scientist for the Apollo moon landing program.

What Mr. Cover invented was a device resembling a large flashlight. When a gunpowder charge was detonated, the Taser launched two wires that latched onto a suspect's clothes and delivered an electrical charge to his body.

After introducing the invention with great fanfare, Taser Systems, a California-based company, foundered and went in and out of bankruptcy protection until it was sold to an investor who produced the Tasers as a side business. That business was called Tasertron, supplying them to police agencies, including the Los Angeles Police Department. In 1991, the Taser gained notoriety when police officers were accused of beating Rodney King after the Taser they used had failed to subdue him.

That same year, Mr. Smith said, two friends of his were killed during a dispute with an angry motorist.

"I got very interested personally in the whole topic of self-defense," Mr. Smith said. "I thought it was bizarre that you couldn't find a nonlethal weapon to defend yourself with." For an M.B.A. class at the University of Chicago, Mr. Smith, who had read that the Taser had failed in the Rodney King incident because of a battery problem, developed a business plan for marketing an improved Taser-like invention for the average citizen.

After graduating in 1993, he received $25,000 in financing from his family to work with Mr. Cover, who was then 73 years old. Tinkering in Mr. Cover's garage, they developed a version of the Taser that was fired with compressed air, not gunpowder.

Then came the disastrous demonstration in Prague. Mr. Smith and his older brother, Tom, who is president of Taser, realized that they were not taking into account the psychological aspect of pain. While the gun could subdue a fairly docile person, it could not stop people who were angry, psychotic, in a drug-induced rage or - like the Czech cadet - highly motivated.

More testing was necessary. During the first round of new testing they tried the gun on a pig that had been anesthetized - so that it would feel no pain and, too, so they could see its basic physiological reaction.

"It was disheartening," Mr. Smith said. "There was only minor shivering, like the pig was cold.''

He gradually cranked up the amount of energy in each electrical pulse, increased the duration of each pulse and also added more of an electrical charge. With the new version of the gun, the anesthetized pig experienced severe muscle contractions. "It was as if the pig was on an exercise machine pulling out all the stops," Mr. Smith said.

He acknowledged that the new Taser was not the only effective nonlethal weapon on the market. But with stun guns, which also deliver an electrical charge, "you have to be close enough to touch the other person." And pepper spray, he said, can get in the eyes of officers as well as suspects.

Tom Smith said that the new Taser was very different from the original ones. "Those were like those big early video cameras," he said. "Today, a video camera is something that fits in the palm of your hand. It's the same with the Taser. Other than the fact that it was named a Taser and it fires out probes, those would be the only similarities."

In June, Taser International acquired Tasertron for $1 million. While Rick Smith originally envisioned the Taser as a weapon to be used by citizens for self-protection, it is being widely adopted by law enforcement agencies. The Phoenix Police Department adopted the Taser in December, and according to the department, from January through June, the number of officer-involved shootings dropped to 8 from 15 from the same period last year. The Defense Appropriations Funding Bill for 2004 allocated $1 million to buy Tasers for the Army.

In 2001, at the depth of the dot-com bust, Paulson Investments, an investment bank in Portland, Ore., offered financing to Taser and the company had an initial public offering of stock at $6.50 a share. On Friday, Taser closed at $61.04 a share on the Nasdaq. Mr. Smith has paid back his father, who also owns about $12 million in Taser shares.

As for the Czech police officers, Tom Smith recently went back to see them. "I was in Prague with those same people," he said earlier this month. "Call it the reunion tour."

Things went differently, he said.

Police are out of control 09.Sep.2004 21:44

From San Diego CA.

To me you would think anyone in their right mind would consider just what this TASER gun is doing it's taking life not saving life . I just wish someone would take a good look at the out come of this problem and the people it is hurting and the pain it is putting on the loved ones . I say put the TASER away and the police that are useing them and have someone die because of the taser gun should be held responsible for there actions ..As to I almost lost a loved one due to the TASER gun.....

Police Policy is a Farce!!! 01.Jun.2005 09:31

Alice Jacobs ajacobs@wsvn.com

I filed a complaint against a Miramar Police officer in Florida and it's a joke. They don't even question the officer, they just ask him to type out a little memo to what happened. Then the chief looks for "facts" (and HE decides what are facts or not) that can incriminate the officer. Then to protect the department they send out a nice little letter that says they investigated the matter. You can have a hundred witnesses, but that's not considered a "fact". You can have a hundred documents that show that the officer's statements are false or questionable and they don't care. They should just send a form letter to anyone that files a complaint that says;

" Dear Citizen, Thank you for filing a complaint. You do realize, however, that we police officers are going to protect our own. We will humor you for a while making you think we are doing something to help you but we are not. After all, I have worked with my buddy (insert officer's name here) for many years. What makes you think that I am going to take your side in a complaint no matter how wrong he is? I will get as much information out of you as possible, then twist it to exonerate the officer. Besides, if the officer is guilty of doing something wrong, that makes the Chief look bad, and why would the chief make himself look bad? Especially when he has all the power and doesn't have to answer to anyone? C'mon!! So, as much as we appreciate the complaint, we would just like to let you know that it is pointless and a waste of your time. We have all the power here, not you. Go ahead and file a law suit if you want, your tax dollars are going to pay for it. Now, excuse us while we park in the fire zone outside of Winn Dixie when there is no emergency so we can buy condoms for our girlfriends. Please don't tell our wives."

There you go. At least that would be a "little" bit of honesty from them.