Taser International Chief Executive Officer Rick Smith recently urged Nashville Police Chief Ronal Serpas to convene a panel of experts to review the stun guns, the Tennessean reports. Eight days later, Serpas did exactly that. The advice came in an Oct. 6 e-mail obtained by The Tennessean. Serpas said that he never read the e-mail, and that it’s not where he got the idea for a panel. “I think this proactive-type approach will help easy (sic) community concerns by assuring them that the police department takes their concerns seriously – and it will allow for unbiased scientific evaluation of the facts,” Smith said in the e-mail. The message illustrates how Taser International is offering its advice to local police during the national issue of deaths after the use of Tasers.
The e-mail from Taser International was not a factor in Serpas’ decision to convene a group of police and medical experts to develop “a best practices guide” for using Tasers against people under the influence of drugs, Metro police spokesman Don Aaron said. The group, announced Oct. 14, will include Metro police training officials, the Nashville Fire Department’s deputy chief for emergency medical services, the Metro medical examiner. and the head of Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s emergency department. Nashville police were criticized after the Sept. 24 death of Patrick Lee, who was shocked as many as 19 times in addition to being hit with pepper spray and struck with batons. It was the second time since May that a person died in Nashville after being shocked with police Tasers.