Injured Dallas cop sues Taser, raises questions about training safety for officers

Those who have been through a Taser zap describe it has five seconds of pure pain, having 50-thousand volts of electricity pumped through the body.

But, it isn't just the public or suspects who are Tasered. For some in law enforcement it is a required part of training, but for some it is voluntary. Taser asserts the device will incapacitate, but leave no permanent damage.

Dallas Police officer, Andy Butler says it was peer pressure from his rookie class in 2009 that pushed him to say yes to being Tasered.

"It seemed like a rite of passage, that everybody had to do it," the father of two, said.

Butler says he knew it would hurt, but never imagined it would change his life forever.

"I don't think any responsible person would have made that decision, knowing what I know now."

The athletic, former marine says it didn't take long for him to realize that the jolt had done damage to his body. In a few hours, Butler says he was in intense pain and couldn't feel his arm. A doctor delivered the news.

"He told me that he had news I wouldn't like. I had three herniated disc in my neck and one was pressing on my spinal cord."

The injury required surgery, leaving Butler with two metal plates in his neck and he says, in constant pain.

"I feel it every hour of the day."

Butler says the waiver he signed from Taser International cited possible "physical exertion or athletic-type injuries". He says it never mentioned the possibly of the debilitating injury he suffered.

Since the training injury, Butler has joined a growing number of police officers across the country, who are suing Taser International claiming the company failed to adequately warn officers and their departments about the risks for injury.

"Taser has known since 2004 that every time an officer is tasered, he is at risk of serious injury or even death," Butler's attorney, Mark Haney, said.

Haney says Taser has not been up front with police departments about the number and kinds of serious injuries suffered by officers during Taser training.

"They hint around about it, but they don't just come out and say that 20-40 officers have been injured and these are the kinds of risks you pose, if the department allows officers to be Tasered."

In a recent deposition for Butler's lawsuit, the CEO of Taser, Rick Smith testified, that training manuals indicate about 10 officers have been injured. Critics will argue that number is understated.

Smith also testified that Taser has never advised any department to stop Tasering its officers as part of training.

In Dallas, officials say being Tasered is optional, not mandatory. Top police officials say they weren't aware of the array of officer injuries.

"I don't know what those debilitating injuries are," Deputy Chief, Floyd Simpson, said.

Chief Simpson oversees the department's policy on Taser training. He says there is no chance of ending the practice of Tasering officers who volunteer because it would mean the end of the Taser, as a weapon.

"That is a weapon we use on the public. If we think it is unsafe and harm officers, then I couldn't reasonably deploy those weapons against the public."

In an unexpected twist, Taser is now counter-suing Butler, claiming he should have known the risks. He has now scaled back to a reserve officer within the department.

He wants to send a message to Tater and he says change the practice of Tasering the good guys.

"They can end it all. Just don't Taser officers."

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