Instructor: Taser training materials said stun gun couldn't cause bone damage
By Bo Rosser
Updated Dec. 12, 2005, 12:20 p.m. ET
PHOENIX — A certified Taser instructor and captain at the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office testified he believed the training materials provided to him by Taser International indicated the M26 Taser could not cause damage to bones.
Captain Robert Parrish testified in a product liability suit filed against the stun-gun maker. Former deputy Sam Powers is suing Taser International, alleging a one-second burst from the M26 during a 2002 training exercise forced him to retire after he fractured his T-7 vertebra.
Parrish, who was trained by Taser International, said he was told the weapon was "very safe" and that Taser representatives compared the shock from an M26 to that emitted by defibrillators — the paddles used to restart the heart.
"It was actually a safer range," Parrish said, comparing the Taser to a defibrillator.
Attorneys for the plaintiff claim the gun maker misrepresented the weapon's potential for injury and misrepresented research the company cited to support its safety.
"We were told to be aware of vulnerable body areas," Parrish said. "Nothing else."
The captain also said he was not warned the weapon could cause stress fractures or injuries to muscles or human tissue. Had he known it could, Parrish said, he would have passed that information on to his trainees.
"I would want the officers to be aware they could be injured in the class," Parrish testified.
Throughout the trial's seven days, the defense has depicted Powers as a man plagued by health problems, particularly back problems, which began in the 1970s with a Navy injury.
Tawana Powers testified that she recalled her husband having back problems only since the late 1990s and had little recollection of any specific doctor or chiropractic visits her husband made.
"[Your husband] also treated with a chiropractor in 1999 for at least 20 visits or more. Do you recall that?" defense attorney Christina Reid-Moore asked on cross-examination.
"I can't say that I do," Powers replied. Although later in her testimony, Powers said she may have remembered one of the visits.
"I think I recall that he had some minor discomfort [in his mid-back] from a men's retreat he was on," Powers said.
Reid-Moore also revisited the subject of Sam Powers' osteoporosis. The defense has frequently exhibited or mentioned a 1999 medical report that diagnosed the former deputy with the bone-deteriorating disease, yet neither he nor his wife has any memory of the diagnosis.
Tawana Powers said she only learned of her husband's osteoporosis after his July 16, 2002, injury.
Sam Powers' previous knowledge of his osteoporosis is a key issue for both sides. If the defense can convince the jury that Powers knew of the bone disease at the time of his Taser training — but still opted to be shocked — it may suggest that no level of warning would have stopped him from taking the sample exposure.
To win, Powers' attorneys must prove that a higher level of warning would have prevented the former deputy from taking the 50,000-volt "hit."
The plaintiff is scheduled to continue calling witnesses Tuesday. The trial is being streamed live on Court TV Extra.
Thought this was a very interesting quote:
"Parrish, who was trained by Taser International, said he was told the weapon was "very safe" and that Taser representatives compared the shock from an M26 to that emitted by defibrillators — the paddles used to restart the heart."
I been told by knowledgeable AR15.com experts that the comparing the voltages of the Taser to a defibrillator is a pretty stupid thing to do. Wonder why this trained instructor by Taser International uses the same comparison?
Instructor? I think a more accurate term is “network sales associate trying to sell their way into a senior founder’s membership status”.