How does Axon design Taser weapons to prevent mix-ups? The answer has proven vital

Posted at 12:31 PM, Apr 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-17 17:57:19-04

PHOENIX — On April 11, Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter shot and killed Daunte Wright during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.

When Potter drew her weapon on Wright she believed she had pulled out her Taser weapon, according to former Brooklyn Center police Chief Tim Gannon. Gannon said Potter accidentally pulled a firearm, so instead of discharging an electric shock, she fired a bullet and killed Wright. Gannon and Potter have both since left the department and Potter was charged with manslaughter on Wednesday after spending two decades on the force.

The electro-shock Taser device is manufactured by Scottsdale-based Axon Enterprise Inc.

National news outlets, including USA Today and the New York Times, have reported at least 15 cases of police officers mixing up guns and Taser weapons in the past 20 years, which highlights the situation’s rarity.

A statement provided to the Business Journal from Axon said the company cannot comment on the specifics of Daunte Wright’s death, but it acknowledged the incident may have involved the accidental use of a firearm rather than an Axon product.

“Although very rare, there have been isolated incidents of an officer accidentally using their firearm instead of their Taser energy weapon,” the statement said. “Over the years Axon has implemented numerous features and training recommendations to reduce the possibility of these incidents occurring.

“This includes building Taser energy weapons to look and feel different than a firearm: a Taser device has a different grip and feel and is lighter than a firearm; is offered in yellow to contrast a black firearm; a LED control panel lights up when the safety is taken off; and it is contained in a holster that is different and separate from the officer’s firearm.”

When asked if the company was considering any additional features or complete redesigns on the Taser weapon system, the company said, “We are constantly improving our technology, but we have nothing new to announce at this time.”

Read more of this subscription-only article from the Business Journal here.