The value of stock of Scottsdale-based Taser International continues to slide downward following reports questioning the safety of the company’s electric stun gun.
A series of critical reports, including the latest from Chicago police, saw the stock steadily drop to $33.45 in December and move swiftly downward last month to $14.10 a share.
The stock rose slightly, but then dropped again to $14.42 Thursday after CBS reported that an Air Force study found multiple shocks from a Taser stun gun led to heart damage in pigs.
The latest downward spin came Friday when stock dropped 6.5 percent to close at $13.48 following news reports that Chicago Police Superintendent Philip Cline ordered the halt in distributing 100 Tasers to city police following the death of man shot by police with a Taser stun gun.
The stun guns were to be distributed in the next few weeks.
However, Cline authorized continued use of the 200 Tasers the department now has while the death is investigated.
"We’re asking everyone to avoid drawing any immediate conclusions or snap judgments," Cline told the Chicago Tribune.
Taser issued a statement Friday that it was "deeply concerned that CBS News and the Associated Press would publicize erroneous links between the Taser and heart damage conflicting with the study author’s own assertions and relying solely on statistically insignificant readings."
The company said the study did not find ventricular fibrillation or heart damage in the pigs that were subjected to shocks from a Taser stun gun.
Chicago Police said a 54-year-old man who they said screamed at them and tried to bite an officer’s arm died Thursday after being shot with the electrically-powered gun.
Taser International, founded by Phillips Smith and his sons, Patrick and Thomas Smith in 1994, has sold about 100,000 stun guns to law enforcement, military agencies, corporations and private citizens.
The 6-inch, 7-ounce Tasers fire two hooks attached to wires for a range of up to 21 feet. When fired, the wires produce a 50,000-volt charge that temporarily paralyzes a person.
Despite being hailed by law enforcement officers, the company’s stock has dropped following a series of other reports, including:
• An investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission into an eleventhhour sale Dec. 31 of $1.5 million stun guns to a firearms distributor in Prescott, a move that was questioned because it appeared to inflate year-end sales.
The company said the sale was normal business activity.
• Investigations by the SEC into charges that Taser International allegedly made misleading statements about the safety of the stun gun.
The SEC charges were subsequently followed by a series of lawsuits filed by Taser shareholders against the company for allegedly causing the value of their stock to drop.
• The sale by Phillips Smith of $40.8 million in company stock on Dec. 31 as part of his retirement transition was questioned. The company denied the sale was a "bailout" maneuver.