CMPD looks to buy new, safer tasers after man's death

Published: Sep. 24, 2011 at 1:20 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 24, 2011 at 2:52 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - After a recent taser-related death -- one of two such deaths since 2008 -- Monday night the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department will ask the city council for $1.8 million to upgrade to a safer model of taser.

The CMPD has not been using tasers since shortly after the July 20th death of Lareko Williams, who was tazed at a light rail stop.

Police say Williams had been attacking and choking a woman he was with before he was tazed.

Technicians have been inspecting the tasers CMPD officers were carrying before the death, but now CMPD is looking to trade in those tasers and upgrade to a newer model.

A taser known as the X26 was used on Williams when he died.  The exact same kind was used in 2008 on Darryl Turner, a 17- year old who was killed after being tazed when police say he got out of control at a Northeast Charlotte Food Lion.

The day before Williams died, Turner's family won $10 million in a lawsuit against Taser International, the company that makes the X26.

The jury ruled that the company had negligently failed to warn that the firing the X26 model into someone's chest near the heart poses a substantial risk of cardiac arrest to the person.

In March 2008 Officer Jerry Dawson shot Turner for 37 seconds with his taser.  If the CMPD gets the money to upgrade to the X2, that wouldn't be possible anymore.

One of the safety features of the X2 is that it can only discharge for five seconds.  The X26 can discharge for as long as an officer wants to fire it, which critics say can be dangerous.

The $1.8 million the CMPD wants to spend would be enough to buy 1600 tasers.  That's enough for every officer on the force to have one.

The $1.8 million figure includes a $700,000 rebate from Taser International that the company is promising to give if the department turns in its old X26 tasers to upgrade to the X2.

Democratic city councilman Michael Barnes says he wants to make sure the taxpayers are getting the most bang for their buck before voting to approve the money for the X2 tasers.

Since Taser International was found to be negligent when it came to warning about the X26 tasers, he feels the company owes the city a good price on the X2 tasers.

"I expect that they will be giving us a good deal on these devices, because we're having to replace all of them," he said.

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