Business

After 3 Taser-related deaths in San Mateo County, company official defends safety of their devices


REDWOOD CITY – Representatives of Axon, the company that manufacturers Taser stun guns, defended the safety of the devices at a special meeting called by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors on Monday to investigate the use of electronic control weapons in the wake of three deaths last year.

Axon representatives argued that the devices were the safest intermediate force option, causing less serious injuries than pepper spray, dogs or batons, and had never conclusively lead to a fatal electrocution, an
assertion that drew jeers and laughter from the audience in the packed chambers in Redwood City.

When asked by Supervisor David Pine about the extensive warnings that are distributed with Tasers, including that for certain vulnerable people Tasers “may cause or contribute to sudden death,” Axon attorney Michael Brave minimized the importance of the warnings.

“It’s just like ladders and acetaminophen, if you read all of the warnings you’ll never use any of those things,” Brave told the supervisors.

Chinedu Okobi, the man who died after being tasered in Millbrae. (Courtesy
of the Okobi Family)

Pine called for the hearing in December as an investigation into the death of Chinedu Okobi during an arrest in Millbrae by San Mateo County sheriff’s deputies drew increasing scrutiny.

Okobi’s was the third Taser-related death in the county last year, following Warren Ragudo in Daly City in January and Ramzi Saad in Redwood City in August. A Taser was also used on a fourth person who died in the county in 2018, Kyle Hart, but Redwood City police officers shot him after Tasing him in December.

Sheriff’s officials said that Okobi was running in and out of traffic in Millbrae on Oct. 3 and assaulted a deputy who approached him. Okobi’s sister, Ebele Okobi, publicly accused the sheriff’s office of lying
after she viewed video of the encounter.

The video has not been made public, but District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe has committed to releasing it once his investigation is complete.

At the end of the hearing, Ebele Okobi thanked the supervisors for holding the meeting, which in addition to Axon featured presentations by sheriff’s officials, civil rights leaders, and a medical researcher from the
University of California at San Francisco.

“It’s a first step in bringing accountability,” Ebele Okobi said.

The Okobi family’s attorney, civil rights attorney John Burris, in October called for a moratorium on Tasers in the county.

Representatives from the sheriff’s office, including Sheriff Carlos Bolanos, touted the department’s crisis intervention training as well as its psychiatric emergency response team, a program started in 2015 that
pairs a sheriff’s detective with a technician from the county Behavioral Health and Recovery Services.

The psychiatric response team is the first program like it in the greater Bay Area, Detective Michael Tabak said, and between May and December last year it made 98 new referrals to mental health services and reconnected 352 people to services.

Bolanos argued against any kind of moratorium, saying that deputies may use firearms more frequently if they do not have access to Tasers.

Asked how his deputies are trained in addressing the medical implications, …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business

      

(Visited 4 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *