The makers of Taser electrical weapons have always maintained that their stun guns are 100% safe. The families of the 100 or so people who've died since 1999 after getting shocked tend to have a different point of view. So the Justice Department decided to fund an academic study, to finally figure out whether the Tasers were really "non-lethal" or not.But the report's authors seem to have already made up their minds. One of the key advisers on the half-million dollar effort has been moonlighting as a paid consultant for the stun gun manufacturer, USA Today reveals. And the professor leading the study wrote, before his research got underway, that "Tasers do not kill."
Robert Stratbucker, a physician from Omaha, 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... has worked with Taser as the Arizona company has touted its stun guns... Taser, whose Web site lists Stratbucker as the company's medical director [he even has a taser.com e-mail address -- ed.] , has cited his research in promoting its stun guns...Stratbucker's presence is "a potential conflict of interest," said Hubert Williams, president of the Police Foundation, a think tank here that researches law enforcement issues and wants federal money to do its own stun-gun study. "We wouldn't do it."THERE'S MORE: Slate's today touted the Stratbucker connection as a USA Today "scoop." But Taser's hometown paper, the Arizona Republic, was on the doctor's case back in January.