Inventor of Taser stun gun dies

Feb. 13, 2009 at 10:12 AM
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MISSION VIEJO, Calif., Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Jack Cover, an aerospace scientist and inventor of the Taser stun gun, used by law officers worldwide, has died at age 88, his wife said.

Cover had Alzheimer's disease and died of pneumonia Saturday at the Golden West Retirement Home in Mission Viejo, Calif., his wife Ginny told the Los Angeles Times.

Trained as a nuclear physicist, Cover spent most of his career working in aerospace and defense industries. He also was a born inventor who in the 1940s already was building gadgets, including an alternative-energy generator, voice-activated switches and an electric toothbrush, the Times said.

But, the stun gun was his most successful invention, credited with preventing deadly police encounters and spurring improvements in the tactics used to take violent offenders into custody.

The stun gun also has its share of critics, who have linked the device to scores of deaths in recent years. But, experts disagree on whether the stun guns directly caused the deaths.

Despite the continuing debate, the stun gun has come into widespread use, adopted by more than 13,000 military and law enforcement agencies around the world, the Times said.

Cover was born in New York City on April 6, 1920, and grew up in Chicago. He earned a bachelor's degree and a doctorate in physics at the University of Chicago, where his professors included Enrico Fermi and Edward Teller, the renowned atomic scientists, the newspaper said.

During World War II, he was an Army Air Forces test pilot.

In addition to his wife, of San Clemente, Calif., he is survived by four children, two stepchildren, 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

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