911, what's the address of the emergency?>> A weapon that promised to revolutionize policing,
For law enforcement across America.
top.>> Thousands of police departments have embraced tasers as an effective, but less lethal weapon. But critics say far too often a taser shot has factored in death, followed by litigation. Leading to a mounting cost for the public.>> He's not, he ain't breathing.
>> He ain't breathing, he ain't breathing, he ain't breathing.>> In a nationwide review of legal filings, Reuters found at least 442 wrongful death suits had been filed over fatalities that followed the use of a teaser. Almost all since the early 2000s when the stun guns began gaining popularity with police.
>> What are you doing? What are you doing?>> The majority of those suits were filed against police departments in the municipalities they represent. Leading to at least $172 million in publicly funded payouts. National Affairs Editor, Jason Szep.>> The net effect for the taxpayer was that municipalities have had to pay out millions of dollars.
That's millions of dollars of taxpayer funds to settle these wrongful death cases involving tasers.>> The lawsuits stem from the more than 1,000 incidents identified by Reuters in which someone died after being stunned with a taser by police. Often in conjunction with other force.>> If you all stop, I will.
If you all stop, I will!>> But one party is increasingly absent from the courtroom, TASER International. The company, which recently changed its name to AXON Enterprise, made a crucial change in 2009. It warned police against firing its stun guns at a person's chest, as evidence of cardiac risks mounted.
Since then, wrongful death lawsuits filed against Taser have slowed to a trickle.>> What are you doing? Now, in nearly every case, plaintiffs are suing governments, not the manufacturer. By 2013, the company's warnings had grown to eight pages, which some police say makes it difficult to know when the weapon should and should not be used.
Taser spokesman Steve Tuttle says the warnings are designed to protect not only the company, but also police.>> He's unconscious.>> Taser attributes 24 deaths to its stun guns, all due to secondary injuries. The company says its devices carry only a small risk.
nd are safe when used as directed.