In Light of Several Deaths After the Stun Gun is Used, Questions Raised About Tasers Being Misused

This is a rush transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," November 29, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Florida, sheriff deputies Taser a man today who was walking in and out of traffic on I-95 armed with a pocketknife. Ohio, a pregnant woman Tasered in the neck after a struggle with police. Vancouver, a Polish immigrant acting bizarrely at an airport is Tasered; then he dies.

And, suddenly, guns meant only to stun are getting instead some stunning and unwelcome attention.

Taser CEO Tom Smith on whether local officials are overdoing it with these things.

Tom, what do you think?

TOM SMITH, CHAIRMAN & CO-FOUNDER, TASER INTERNATIONAL: Well, again, use of force is a controversial topic, because, a lot of times, people want to fight with police, but they have to be taken into custody.

And, again, the Taser has been demonstrated to be the safest way to end these confrontations, compared to hitting them with a baton, spraying them with pepper spray, ultimately the firearm.

Punching and kicking, all those things are wrought with injury, so I think they are using the Tasers in situations where the people want to fight with them. And, again, you don't have to have any of those things occur if you don't fight with police.

CAVUTO: But did you envision, Tom, that a lot of the municipalities, cities, these type of incidents, they might be — overdoing it?

SMITH: Well, we obviously never envisioned that.

And, really, that is going to be up to the local command staff for the investigations and to make sure that these — any tool is being used within the use-of-force policy. And, really, that's — that is their area of expertise. We concentrate on making the device. And it certainly is receiving a lot of attention these days.

CAVUTO: But do you warn them, Tom, that — you warn, you know, used repeatedly, they — these things can kill you?

SMITH: Well, again, we have got medical evidence that they're — that doesn't support that. And it's how many punches or how many kicks or how many hits?

CAVUTO: Well, the guy in Vancouver — the guy in Vancouver who ended up dying — now, I'm not saying — you know, he was certainly acting erratic at an airport, no less. So, one could argue he had what was coming to him.

But it's the idea that a weapon that was not thought to be life- threatening now is.

SMITH: Well, we haven't seen that. And, again, we — we are waiting to hear what the reports are.

But, in the previous incidents where that has occurred, again, the Taser has been cleared. And we have to rely on the medical community to look at that. And we have done exposures now on humans.

CAVUTO: Do you need a license for these things, Tom?

SMITH: No, you don't need a license. We — we require background checks.

CAVUTO: Are you worried that these incidents — are you worried that these incidents might prompt that?

SMITH: I don't think so. Again, you don't need them for a baseball bat or pepper spray. And we do a lot of regulation on our own. But it's - - it's something we have worked out and reached with states.

CAVUTO: All right.

SMITH: But it's not gotten to the federal level.

CAVUTO: Tom, thank you very much.


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