Friday, November 30, 2007

Appearance of Bias - Taser Company Cozy With Coronors

The Globe and Mail has reported on the cozy ties between Taser International and some coronors, the officials often responsible for investigating Taser related deaths; a cozy relationship which creates an appearance of bias on the part of one very prominent Canadian coronor.

In Taser firms picked up coroner's lecture tab the Globe reports that Taser International has paid hotel and travel expenses for prominent Canadian coronor Dr. James Cairns, Ontario's deputy chief coronor, who has given seminars "on the phenomenon of "excited delirium," a medically unrecognized term that the company often cites as a reason people die after being tasered". The article indicates that Dr. Cairns does not see any conflict of interest on his part. [The Globe & Mail also reports that Dr. Cairns admitted in testimony yesterday at an Ontario inquiry that he had helped shield disgraced pathologist Charles Smith.]

In Symposium aims to define 'excited delirium' DEATHS IN CUSTODY: TASER HELPS FUND RESEARCH the Globe and Mail reports on the second annual Sudden Death, Excited Delirium and In-Custody Death Conference underway in Las Vegas. Many of the nearly 20 talks touch on the role of Tasers. "The key issue is excited delirium, a collection of symptoms that is quickly becoming the leading explanation offered when a person dies in police custody or after a taser is used." Two researchers who presented disclosed that Taser International funds their research. As reported by the Globe & Mail, the Taser subsidized research presenters "conducted research on the negative effects of taser use on the human body; they found very few".

1 comment:

Scruffy Dan said...

Even if tasers are found to be occasionally lethal I still believe the can serve as a valuable tool to police officers. BUT they will only serve as a valuable tool if they are only used in situations where they replace the use of guns (as dictated by RCMP guidelines).

The problem (in my opinion) isn't whether tasers are occasionally lethal, it's that police officers are using tasers in situations where under no circumstances would a gun be used.

What is needed is for the RCMP (and other police forces, the RCMP is far from alone in taser misuse) to enforce it's own guidelines in the use of tasers, and possible re-train officers in the proper use of tasers.