SAN JOSE, Calif — A federal judge has ordered Taser International to pay $1.4 million to lawyers for the family of a Salinas man who died after police officers repeatedly shocked him with stun guns. U.S. District Court Judge James Ware last week ordered the Scottsdale, Ariz. company liable for attorneys fees accrued by the family of 40-year-old Robert Heston. In June, a jury held Taser [partially] responsible for Heston's 2005 death and awarded his family $6 million [later reduced due to some California legal technicality]. Jurors found that Taser did not inform officers the device could be harmful if used repeatedly. Heston died a day after officers used Taser devices as many as 30 times while trying to subdue him. An autopsy showed that Heston died from methamphetamine intoxication, an enlarged heart and the taser shocks. [LINK]
Background information on the Heston case [LINK]
Previously reported findings [LINK]:
The jury of five women and two men found that TASER International knew or should have known that its M26 model ECD was dangerous because prolonged exposures to the device pose a substantial risk of cardiac arrest to persons against whom the device is deployed. The jury also found that TASER International failed to adequately warn purchasers of its device of the risks associated with its use.
Taser management will likely remain in denial. This additional $1.4M amount will sting a bit (being a significant portion of their profit for an entire year), but it's probably not sufficient to command their attention and cause them to mend their ways.
Note that this Heston case involved the earlier and probably-safer M26 taser. I can't wait until Taser gets dragged before The Beak to answer some tough questions about the newer X26 taser - with its output waveform including significant amounts of more-dangerous 19Hz low frequency components, and the continuous 100% duty cycle nature of those spectral components.
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