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Tasers save lives, but not 'risk-free', says stun-gun boss 0

MATT KIELTYKA, 24 HOURS
Taser International head Tom Smith spoke at the Braidwood Inquiry into Taser use. (ROB KRUYT, 24 HOURS)

Taser International head Tom Smith spoke at the Braidwood Inquiry into Taser use. (ROB KRUYT, 24 HOURS)

Taser International's smooth-talking president appeared before the Braidwood Inquiry in Vancouver yesterday and challenged researchers to prove his products kill.

Until then, Tom Smith will stick to his two massive binders, consisting of 129 studies, that he says show Tasers save lives.

"The Taser has revolutionized policing," Smith told commissioner Thomas Braidwood. "As far I know, every agency [with Tasers] has seen a decrease in officer and suspect injuries."

While Smith admitted Tasers pose a "miniscule" risk - "they are not risk-free" - the data he's seen indicates that Tasers have the highest safety margin of any police tool.

Even in Canada's 20 Taser-related deaths, the conducted energy device has only been mentioned as a contributing cause of death in four coroner's reports.

"There's a big difference between contributing and causing," Smith said.

While Smith claimed there is "incredible knowledge" about the Taser through medical studies, he offered to finance further research by critics who aren't convinced of the weapon's safety.

That includes Amnesty International, the biggest critics of the Taser.

"The silence has been deafening," Smith said of his joint-research proposals to Amnesty International. "All they have done is look at media clippings."

But not everyone was impressed with Smith's presentation.

"There is no conclusive evidence," said public safety critic Ujjal Dosanjh. "It is being put on us to disprove the claims made by [Taser International] but the onus should be on the manufacturer and police agencies to persuade the public Tasers cannot kill."


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