taser international

Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA

Few inventions have had as dramatic an effect on policing as the Taser stun gun. The tool is billed as a "smart weapon" and often called a non-lethal alternative to guns for the thousands of law enforcement agencies that have adopted them across the country and the world. In fact, the company's website estimates more than 160,000 lives have been saved by use of the weapon.

But just how safe are the Taser weapons actually, and what is the public health cost of assuming they are non-lethal? Those are among the questions Nick Berardini asks in the documentary Killing Them Safely.


It's a gray afternoon in Columbia, Mo., and Officer Cory Dawkins is escorting a man to jail — the suspect is charged with endangering a child. Dawkins pushes a button on his body camera to start recording, then exits his patrol car and walks the suspect inside the jailhouse.

The officer signs papers, talks shop with the guards, and returns to his vehicle.

TASER International, Inc.

Last year Assistant Chief John Gordon of the Columbia Police Department assembled a panel of officers. Their aim was to research cameras that could be worn by all of the officers in the department.

The panel "ranged in years of experience, obviously we had males and females on the panel and then we also had different heights," Gordon said.

"When you wear a body worn camera you wouldn't think about it but height has an element to it because of the way the lens works on the camera,” he added.