The issues at the heart of the Tasers case were America’s cultural obsession with “driving while black”, which between 2001 and 2008 saw black drivers killed at the rate of nine times that of white drivers.
Taser International was touted as a force for social change when it developed the first so-called “split second” system of non-lethal tasers.
An attempt to become fully compliant with state laws that banned tasers on occasions where a person was “in fear of death or great bodily harm” backfired.
According to the company, in 2009 the US introduced “the world’s first law to provide legally-enforceable immunity from prosecution for peace officers’ use of force” in so-called “split-second” encounters. It also argued that the Bush administration had backed its use of tasers because they reduced “fatalities, injuries and complaints”.
The trial also happened when the Supreme Court had just upheld a ruling by a federal appeals court in Georgia which had upheld the FBI’s use of tasers, suggesting they don’t amount to lethal force.