An adviser to a federally funded study on the safety of stun guns made by Taser International also is a paid consultant to Taser, reports USA Today. That raises questions about potential conflicts of interest in the $500,000 study, which is being done amid reports that dozens of people have died after being shocked with stun guns. Robert Stratbucker, an Omaha physician, is among four paid advisers to a two-year study that is being launched by John Webster, a professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Wisconsin. Webster’s application to the Justice Department for a research grant last fall cited Stratbucker as an adviser, but it did not mention that Stratbucker is a consultant to Taser, the nation’s leading seller of stun guns.
Stratbucker has worked with Taser as the Arizona company has touted its stun guns – also known as Tasers – as non-lethal weapons that offer a safe way for police to subdue suspects. About 7,000 of the nation’s 16,000 police agencies have bought Tasers. The Justice Department told USA Today that Stratbucker’s role in the Wisconsin study will be “small” and that it will “not influence the research goals, scientific measurement, data collection or conclusions.”