Family shocked over Taser investigation

CINCINNATI - The family of the U.C. Upward Bound student who died after a tasing on campus Aug. 6 is frustrated to learn the Taser used in the incident still has not been tested for its electrical output.

It's been more than eleven weeks since 18-year-old Everette Howard died.

An I-Team investigation reveals Tasers, which send electricity into a human body with the intent to incapacitate, are not regularly tested for their output. There are no standards for testing them, unlike other tools police use such as radar guns and breathalyzers.

Ohio's Bureau of Criminal Investigations, under Attorney General Mike Dewine, wants to send the weapon to a lab in Canada for testing rather than have it tested in the U.S. and that has the process tied up in Customs issues, while the Taser sits in an evidence room in Ohio…still untested.

"The family is shocked that there is no protocol for testing Taser weapons and we've been in this deployment for over ten years and we still don't know how to calibrate a Taser, we don't know how to test whether a single Taser weapon is putting out the correct amount of current, whatever the correct amount is," said the family's attorney, Al Gerhardstein.

Gerhardstein is calling for investigators to release what they do have in the investigation, as they work to find an independent lab in the U.S. to properly test the weapon.

"If this is the first time that anybody's tried to test a weapon, which it sounds like it is, then we should put that aside, make sure it gets done right, and have a group of independent experts design a protocol that makes sense and try to have some independent scientists look at this who aren't connected to Taser International (the manufacturer)," said Gerhardstein.

An I-Team investigation has revealed that numerous agencies have tested Taser output in Canada, finding a significant number of the weapons testing above and below manufacturer specifications. An independent tester in the U.S., Mike Leonesio with Force Technologies Institute, tells 9 News he regularly finds a number of Tasers fail tests as well.

In an exclusive interview with Taser CEO Rick Smith we asked him whether agencies should test their Tasers.

"They certainly can," said Smith. "…it comes down to individual agencies, the logistics involved in doing that can be significant."

Right now the U.S. is involved in an international effort to come up with a standard method to test Tasers, but so far no such standard exists.

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