A study measuring electric shocks from a Taser stun gun found that it was 39 times more powerful than the manufacturer claimed, the Arizona Republic reports. The finding raises new questions about the weapon’s safety. The study, published last month in the peer-reviewed Journal of the National Academy of Forensic Engineers, concluded that the shocks are powerful enough to cause fatal heart rhythms. It is one of the few scientific studies of Taser’s electric jolt in which the manufacturer did not participate. “The findings show the energy delivered by the weapon to be considerably understated by the manufacturer,” the study said. “These findings place the weapon well into the lethal category.”
Officials with called the study exaggerated, erroneous and “beyond the laws of physics.” A lab hired by Taser found that the weapon produced power that was significantly less than what the Journal study found and met all specifications.T aser is suing the the author of the Journal study, electrical engineer James Ruggieri, for defamation over his claims in a presentation and testimony in a wrongful-death case last year that Tasers can cause fatal heart rhythms. Company officials say Tasers save lives, reduce injury, and save millions of dollars in legal costs because they prevent deadly confrontations. Since 1999, more than 167 people have died after police Taser strikes in the U.S. and Canada. Of those, medical examiners have cited Tasers in 27 deaths, saying that they were a cause of death in five cases, a contributing factor in 17 cases and could not be ruled out in five cases.