There are no Canadian safety standards for Tasers, a “less-lethal” weapon that is designed to fire 50,000 volts of electricty into a person’s body, inflicting excruciating pain and overwhelming the central nervous system, a coroner’s jury heard yesterday.

Allan Nakatsu, a project team leader with global product testing firm ETL Intertek Semko, testified that, unlike toasters, hair dryers, electric toothbrushes, or even cattle prods and electric fences, no electrical standards or testing protocols exist for the weapons, which were quietly introduced into Canada in 2000.

Mr. Nakatsu also testified that one of the two Tasers Intertek tested generated energy output of 30.42 joules/pulse, eighty-five times greater than the manufacturer’s specification of .36 joules/pulse. Earlier, the jury heard that police investigators took the two Tasers used on Robert Bagnell to the lab to be tested.

The manufacturer, Arizona company Taser International Inc., maintains that the Taser is safe. Company spokesman Steve Tuttle has reportedly said that the energy output of .36 joules/pulse is too low to cause cardiac damage.

Amnesty International has just released a much-anticipated report on Canadian Taser use, recommending that the use of the weapons be discontinued.

Robert Bagnell, 44, died on June 23, 2004 after at least 13 Vancouver police officers responded to a 911 call for an ambulance. Bagnell was in a state of mental distress in his bathroom. Police ERT (SWAT) members Tasered him twice while extricating him from the bathroom, according to testimony at the inquest.

Update: The five person jury presiding at the coroner’s inquest classified the death as an accident and was “unable to agree on any recommendations”, the coroner’s court heard yesterday.

Meanwhile, an unidentified San Jose man died yesterday after being Tasered by police, bring the reported Taser-related death toll to 268. Ten people have died so far in May, 2007 after being Tasered by police. 209 people died after being Tasered in the period between Robert Bagnell’s death on June 23, 2004 and the conclusion of the inquest into his death on May 25, 2007.