Grand jury backs use of Tasers - East Valley Tribune: Business

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Grand jury backs use of Tasers

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Posted: Thursday, January 13, 2005 5:32 am

MIAMI - A Miami-Dade grand jury strongly recommended expanded use of Taser stun guns by police in crisis situations involving mentally ill people as a safe alternatives to guns despite reports about deaths of stun-gun targets.

‘‘We believe Tasers save lives,’’ the grand jury said Tuesday in a final report focusing on the handling of mentally ill people in the criminal justice system.

Miami-Dade state attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, who attended the presentation of the final report, said, ‘‘Given the alternatives of a lethal or deadly weapon, they prefer the Taser.’’

The recommendation came amid the Securities and Exchange Commission’s investigation into the safety claims of stun-gun’s manufacturer, Scottsdale-based Taser International. The company’s finances are also under scrutiny. The company issued a letter Tuesday defending $105.8 million in stock sales last year by the family that has run the business.

Taser shares surged $2.91, or more than 20 percent, to close at $17.01 in Wednesday trading on the Nasdaq stock market.

Also, Taser came under increased scrutiny Wednesday from analysts after the company president told a newspaper that four active-duty police officers were offered stock options for law enforcement training programs they supervised.

While Taser president Tom Smith would not identify the officers, citing privacy concerns, the company admitted in Securities and Exchange Commission filings that the training programs ‘‘have led directly to the sale of Tasers to a number of police departments.’’

‘‘Once you have those stock options, it’s human nature, you want them to do well,’’ said Marianne Jennings, a lawyer who teaches business ethics at Arizona State University.

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