This episode originally was broadcast May 11, 2019.
Tasers are on the duty belt of nearly every American police officer. Their manufacturer, Axon Enterprise Inc., has long promoted the device as extremely effective at helping police resolve dangerous situations without using their guns.
But a yearlong investigation by APM Reports shows Tasers often are less effective than the company has claimed. And just as Tasers can save lives when they subdue suspects, when they don’t, the outcome can be deadly.
In Vermont, we explore what happened when police using Tasers failed to subdue a mentally ill man. We trace the history of the Taser and how changes to its design over the years may have reduced its effectiveness in some circumstances. We visit Axon Academy Bootcamp in Fort Worth, Texas. And we talk with police officials in Southern California, where the Taser first was developed.