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Former police officer sues Taser for injuries

A former police officer with the Houston Police Department (HPD) has filed a lawsuit against Taser International Inc. She alleges that she suffered a serious back injury after her city-issued taser gun malfunctioned while attempting to apprehend a suspect while she was on the force.

In the woman's lawsuit, she chronicles how she used her Taser to subdue a suspected shoplifter who was attempting to resist her arrest. As the woman's behavior escalated after her initial attempt, the officer resorted to pulling the trigger five additional times with little to no impact. The officer claims that the back injuries she sustained would have been avoidable had the taser worked as advertised and adequately subdued the person on whom it was directed.

As for Taser's position on the matter, they claim that the device has been tested worldwide and has been proven effective. In fact, they argue more than 18,000 international law enforcement agencies use the device.

In the last few years, it's become much more heavily relied on than police batons or pepper spray for neutralizing unruly individuals. So much so that it has become relied on by officers as the first line of defense before they resort to using guns.

The plaintiff in this case maintains that, had help not arrived when it did, she might have seen herself as having no other alternative but to use her gun. And, according to HPD's own records, she's not alone.

In fact, in the past five years, some 450 cases have been reported of the unit not functioning properly. Of those cases, 25 involve the Taser either not having penetrated its intended target or delivered a charge at all. A report filed by the Los Angeles Police Department showed an effectiveness of only 53 percent.

This former officer's lawsuit stands in stark contrast to those who have been on the receiving end of Taser currents. Many lawsuits by Texas products liability attorneys have previously been filed against the Taser's manufacturer for the device producing too strong of a current, a factor that has been alleged to have caused heart attacks, seizures and deaths. For her part, the plaintiff makes no specific claim of damages in her lawsuit.

Source: houstonchronicle.com, "Former Houston police officer sues Taser over injuries from assault," Gabrielle Banks, accessed May 02, 2017

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