Axon Enterprise, the maker of Taser stun guns, said Monday that it has experienced an uptick in demand for its products as cities contend with protests and riots following the death of George Floyd.
The Scottsdale, Arizona-based company’s stock rose 18 percent Monday as the market reacted to nationwide protests related to the death of Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis. Peaceful protests against police brutality have occurred alongside rioting in several cities, including the incidences of looting of local businesses and altercations with authorities on the scene. Police have used tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets to disperse crowds.
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Axon said its customer-facing teams have noted “an increase in product usage and requests” for two of its products – Axon Aware, which provides livestream functionality for body cameras worn by law enforcement officers in the field, and Axon Citizen, described as a “public evidence submission tool.”
“In the light of recent events including the tragic death of George Floyd, we are only further impassioned to work towards our mission of protecting life,” Axon said in a statement. “We’ve spent the last 27 years working towards this by developing products ranging from body-worn cameras, for increased accountability, to empathy training so police can better de-escalate dangerous situations without use-of-force.”
“We stand with the citizens and communities who suffer every day as a result of systemic racism and injustice,” the company added.
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Axon did not comment on whether demand for Tasers has increased. Sales of the electrical weapons are the company’s main revenue source.
Floyd, 46, died last Monday during an altercation with police officers who responded to a call that a counterfeit bill was used at a nearby grocery store. A bystander video showed a white Minneapolis police officer kneeling on the handcuffed Floyd’s neck for several minutes prior to his death.
The four officers directly involved in the incident were fired. The officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck was arrested Friday and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
Axon was known as Taser International until 2017. Shares hit an all-time high and closed at $89.75 Monday. Several gun-related stocks also rose in trading.
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The company sells a variety of products to law enforcement, including body cameras, a digital evidence management system and a records management system.
“We offer our sincere condolences to all those who loved George Floyd and we empathize with the citizens and communities who are angry and acknowledge the pain and suffering they are experiencing in the wake of this event,” Axon CEO Rick Smith said in a statement on the company’s website.
Smith said Axon will “continue to learn how we can be a part of fixing what is broken.”
While the Taser is billed as a nonlethal device, critics have noted instances in which suspects died after being hit. In 2017, the company disclosed that at least 15 people had caught fire after being hit with a Taser. Five of those died after being stunned near flammable liquids.
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