[Formatted for clarity, emphasis added, original available at above link.]
A new Taser International Training Bulletin was quietly released on May 1, 2010 on its website. The language in the new bulletin is much stronger; the meaning more overt, but it is proof positive that for the first time the company is admitting its electronic guns can cause deadly cardiac and metabolic effects.
This is ironic and contradictory, considering the company spent ten days trying to discredit Judge Thomas Braidwood who made the same conclusion in his Inquiry Commission report in Vancouver, Canada. How can Taser International justify wasting Canadian court time and subverting our system of accountability, while at the same time they are telling their trainers and other insiders that the weapons are more dangerous than they ever admitted before?
How can our police justify the continued use of the devices when they compare what they were told by Taser International a decade ago, with what the manufacturer now recognizes as very real risks to human health and what could now carry considerable [additional] legal liability, if nothing is done to acknowledge this new development?
This new Bulletin goes further than last fall's warning about the avoidance of chest shots. Taser International said then, that they simply did this, so officers could "avoid the controversy" of having to try to explain why a suspect dies in a Taser-related incident. The controversy was that it can't be proven if their weapons contribute to fatal cardiac events, not that people actually DO die because of Taser shocks. That is a subtle but crucial difference.
The new Training Bulletin is currently on Taser International's website, although acquiring the details is difficult. It is buried in a 458 Megabyte document! It takes 35-minutes to download! The salient points can be found in the Cardiac section on pages 22 to 30, in the PowerPoint presentation on the X-26 model.
Here are some direct quotes I have pulled out from the Bulletin's PowerPoint presentation:
"The risk of an ECD application having a negative effect on a person's heart rate and/or rhythm is not zero."
(In other words, cardiac capture CAN happen)
"The risk of an ECD causing cardiac arrest in humans from VENTRICULAR FIBRILLATION is sufficiently remote that making accurate estimates is very difficult."
(Thus, though rare, VF can happen from ECD strikes-- something Taser International has denied until now)
"Experts have indentified heart-to-dart distance as being a key determining factor in whether an ECD can affect the heart."
(Darts landing closer to the heart can affect it-- possibly adversely!)
"The further an ECD dart is away from the heart, the lower the risk of affecting the heart."
(Again, an admittance that the heart can be affected adversely)
"When possible avoiding chest shots with ECDs reduces the risk of affecting the heart and avoids the controversy about whether ECDs do or do not affect the human heart."
(Last Fall's red-herring warning about 'controversy' aside, it is now implicit that if you avoid chest shots, you will reduce cardiac dangers.)
"The available human data directly contradicts animal studies and does not reveal evidence of breathing impairment or respiratory acidosis."
(Another bit of trickery-- the 'available human data' is biased-- taken from Taser International's own paid researchers, while the 'animal studies' (pig studies from Kumar at U of T and Walters at Cook County Trauma Centre) are derived independently. Also, what about metabolic acidosis? That is conveniently side-stepped).
"The ECD can produce physiologic or metabolic effects."
(Like the aforementioned concern of metabolic acidosis, this is an admittance that lower PH levels in the blood from Taser shocks, can cause the muscles in the chest to stop working-- which can lead to heart failure. The frequency of the Taser waveform causes 'fibrillation', which produces lactic acid, which floods the bloodstream, leading to acidosis, which can be deadly, especially with prolonged 'applications').
"Reasonable effort should be made to minimize the number of ECD exposure and resulting physiologic and metabolic effects."
(That's because there are consequences of the number and duration of stuns, causing serious and possibly deadly changes to body chemistry; in early promotional material, Taser International wrote, "The rapid work cycle instantly depletes the attacker's blood sugar level by converting it to lactic acid..." That IS metabolic acidosis, something Taser International later claimed to be impossible. It now appears they have changed their tune again. They didn't pull one vial of blood for acidosis testing with the one pig and five dogs tested before they went to market with the M-26).
"ECD use has not been scientifically tested on pregnant women, the infirm, the elderly, small children and low body-mass index (BMI) persons, ECD Use on these individuals could increase the risk of death or serious injury."
(That risk of death is mentioned again; this warning is a far cry from the company's first promotional material that said Tasers are "non-lethal, with the stopping power of a .38... safe to use... on any attacker").
"Any physiologic or metabolic change may cause or contribute to death or serious injury."
(A chicken-or-egg scenario-- if deadly metabolic change is brought on by Taser shocks, is it the weapons or the metabolic changes that may lead to serious injury or death? IE: It wasn't the snake that killed the man-- it was the effects of venom).
Also in the SAFETY fine print, some oxymorons, and 'washing-of-hands' of liability:
"Disregarding this information could result in death or serious injury..."
"These warnings are state of the art but cannot address all possible ECD application circumstances or permutations."
"These warnings do not create a standard for care."
"Law enforcement agencies are force tools experts and are solely responsible for their own guidance... Taser has no power or authority to mandate or require guidance, set policy, require training or establish standards of care or conduct."
(Use at your own risk... and the risk of endangering anyone you use it on)
"Incapacitation involves risks that a person may get hurt or die."
(So Taser stuns can kill!)
"The signal word WARNING indicates a hazardous situation which, if not avoided or heeded, could result in death or serious injury."
(That seems plain enough)
"The ECD can produce physiologic or metabolic effects, which include changes in: acidosis, adrenergic states, blood pressure... heart rate and rhythm..."
"Risks of severe acidosis and cardiac arrest may exist prior to, during or after law enforcement intervention or ECD use."
(A bolder admittance-- again in the fine print-- there are risks of cardiac arrest during ECD use... and of course acidosis is generally a delayed response to shock, not instantaneous...)
"Recommend all Taser ECD users conduct their own research, analysis and evaluation."
(Above is my personal favorite from page 8 of the X-26 Powerpoint found in the new Training Manual. It is a real cop-out-- as one would think the manufacturer would have conducted all neccessary research before the devices were marketed, and that the user shouldn`t be expected to conduct the research! Verify safety claims-- sure-- but actually DO the research?).
So in summary: Taser International and so-called "experts" such as their minion "Dr." (LOL) Mark W. Kroll were WRONG, dead wrong, when they made persistent claims that tasers could not affect the heart and carried no risk of death.
We bloggers and campaigners were correct when we pointed to the blatantly-obvious real-world evidence and stated that tasers are not as safe as was being claimed at the time.
They were wrong. We were right. People were killed. Many. Probably hundreds.
Here's the tragic punchline. A long time ago it was reported that about 95% of law enforcement agencies (the ones that have tasers), are using Taser Use Policies that can be traced back to Taser International.
Not The New Taser International, but the old one that claimed that repeatedly claimed that tasers-R-safe.
So almost all the currently-in-use Taser Use Policies are based on lies. They're all defective.
How many have been updated? Very few. Canada. Palo Alto. A few other places.
People will continue to be killed where there is no intention by the naive policeman to kill.
If someone dies at the other end of your taser wires, you'd better be prepared to justify it as a lawful and moral killing.
What a fricken mess.