To prove weapon’s safety, Taser drugs, tortures animals

By Stephen C. Webster
Saturday, April 17, 2010 13:49 EDT
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According to electric-shock weapons maker Taser International, if a bunch of sheep are fed methamphetamine and subjected to a series of shocks and none of them suffer cardiac arrest, that weapon must be alright to use on real meth addicts.

That was the aim of a recent study paid for by Taser, which did just that: drugged and tortured animals with 50,000 volts as a means of proving a weapon’s safety.

The study’s abstract reads: “Because of the prevalence of methamphetamine abuse worldwide, it is not uncommon for subjects in law enforcement encounters to be methamphetamine-intoxicated. Methamphetamine has been present in arrest-related death cases in which an electronic control device (ECD) was used. The primary purpose of this study was to determine the cardiac effects of an ECD in a methamphetamine intoxication model.”

To begin their analysis, 16 sheep were anesthetized and fed varying amounts of meth up to 1.5 mg. The animals were then administered shocks of various lengths by a Taser X-26 while researchers monitored their heart function. The weapons-maker has a video of the weapon’s specifications available online.

“Some of the smaller sheep weighing less than 70.5 pounds suffered exacerbated heart symptoms related to meth use,” summarized blog io9. “But neither the smaller nor larger sheep showed signs of the ventricular fibrillation condition, a highly abnormal heart rhythm that can become fatal.”

Tasers have been accused of causing the deaths by cardiac arrest of many people, from meth-intoxicated suspects to even the mentally ill, though the company and law enforcement maintain the device’s safety and effectiveness.

A request for comment left with Taser International was not answered as of this writing.

Taser International recently launched several new varieties of electric-shock weapons, including a shotgun slug with electrified barbs, the triple-headed “Tri-Fire X3” and, coming soon, a grenade-launcher round that can incapacitate a target from 200 feet.

The study was published by Academic Emergency Medicine. One of the study’s authors, Dr. Jeff Ho, is medical director for Taser International.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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