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Stungun shootout in Colorado leaves slowest man standing

Tasers for two, coffee for one

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The Taser electric stun-gun's image as a possibly deadly incapacitating weapon took something of a knock this weekend, as it emerged that a man in Colorado - having himself been Tased - was then able to respond using his own Taser to deliver a retaliatory zapping.

News reports indicate that the kilovolt shootout took place in Boulder, Colorado, in the alley behind a Mexican restaurant named "Mamacitas". One of the electric gunslingers was Harvey Epstein, owner of Mamacitas, who squared up to a pair of private security guards named Robert Streiff and Casey Dane.

It appears that Streiff aroused Epstein's anger by clamping his car - supposedly because it was blocking a bin and obstructing the alley. Epstein, however, contends that he had parked the vehicle legally on his own property.

The dispute escalated, drawing in Dane, and accounts from this point differ. The two security guards contend that Epstein first menaced them with a pair of boltcutters and then went for his Taser, zapping Dane. But, so far from leaving the security man thrashing in the dirt, the cattleprod strike was ineffective. Dane pulled his own electric iron, administered a counter-blast, and the two rentacops emerged from the encounter victorious.

Epstein, for his part, says he never brandished the boltcutters in a threatening way, intending merely to remove the car clamp with them. Then Dane "pointed a stun gun at my mother's face and I immediately responded with my personal Taser," he told the Boulder Daily Camera.

Dane admits that he did cover Mrs Epstein at one point, but says this was only after her son was down. Apparently the plucky mother picked up her fallen son's weapon, which still had its wires attached to Dane, presumably to administer a further jolt.

The Epsteins also say the the security guards drew lethal firearms once Mr Epstein was down; the rentacops claim they never cleared leather with their ordinary pistols. Responding police arrested Mr Epstein and charged him with "felony menacing and use of a stun gun during commission of a crime", according to the Camera. He was later released on bail.

Tasers generate an automatic time log whenever they are discharged, which should make it possible to determine just who, in fact, shot first. Overall, however, the incident probably won't be seen as a marketing plus by Taser International (suggested new brand: "The House of Flying Cattleprods") as it would seem to suggest limited puissance on the part of Mr Epstein's weapon at least.

A police spokesman reportedly described the episode as "kind of a bonehead deal". ®

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