Taser International has fired a warning shot at medical examiners across the country, the Arizona Republic reports. The stun gun manufacturer increasingly is targeting state and county medical examiners with lawsuits and lobbying efforts to reverse and prevent medical rulings that Tasers contributed to someone’s death. On Friday, an Ohio judge removed Taser’s name from three autopsies that had ruled the stun gun contributed to three men’s deaths. “We will hold people accountable and responsible for untrue statements,” said Taser spokesman Steve Tuttle.
Many medical examiners, who are charged with determining official causes of death, view the company’s efforts as disturbing. ‘”It is dangerously close to intimidation,” says Jeff Jentzen, president of the National Association of Medical Examiners. “At this point, we adamantly reject the fact that people can be sued for medical opinions that they make.” In the Ohio case, the judge said the county offered no medical, scientific, or electrical evidence to justify finding the stun gun was a factor in the deaths of two men in 2005 and another in 2006. Taser and the City of Akron sued the medical examiner, saying examiners in the case lacked the proper training to evaluate Tasers. The judge’s order could have an impact on criminal cases against five sheriff’s deputies who were charged in the 2006 “homicide” of a jail inmate. Instead of homicide, the judge ordered the cause of death changed to “undetermined.”