Taser forges network of scientists, ties with police to defend stun gun

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Taser International Inc, the maker of police stun guns, has defended the safety of its weapon by spending millions on company-sponsored studies and cultivating close ties with police, medical examiners and consultants, a Reuters examination found.

The result is a thicket of intersecting relationships among police, coroners and a wide network of scientists the company taps, according to a Reuters review of hundreds of lawsuits involving Tasers and interviews with lawyers for both plaintiffs and police. When someone dies following an incident involving a Taser, the manufacturer – which changed its name to Axon Enterprise Inc in April – becomes deeply involved in investigations that will determine whether its weapons played a role, Reuters found.

Taser says it aims to ensure investigators gather “the best available evidence” in cases where people are hurt or die in police encounters involving its weapons. It provides scientific information to police and other officials, it said, because “these are things that an outside investigating agency needs to see.”

This story is the third in a series, “Shock Tactics,” about the weapon that transformed American policing. To read the full story, click on.

Edited by Ronnie Greene