The city of Augusta is a lead petitioner in a national class action lawsuit that accuses two police equipment suppliers of inflating the prices of Tasers and body cameras sold to law enforcement agencies across the country. Kennebec Journal photo

AUGUSTA — The city of Augusta is suing two suppliers of police equipment for allegedly creating monopolies that enabled them to inflate the prices of Tasers, body cameras and other equipment sold to police departments across the country.

The city is a lead petitioner in the national class action lawsuit against Axon Enterprise Inc. and Safariland LLC that was filed last Wednesday in federal court in New Jersey.

The lawsuit seeks to recover money from the companies for Augusta and other municipalities it says had to pay more for equipment because the companies squeezed or, in one case, bought other suppliers out of the highly lucrative market.

Stephen Langsdorf, Augusta’s attorney, told City Councilors that police Chief Jared Mills and Assistant Chief Kevin Lully had expressed concerns about prior purchases of Tasers and other police equipment.

Their concerns “did indicate there are some improper antitrust activities that have gone on that have kind of tried to corner the market and kind of drive up the price of these products to police departments,” Langsdorf said at a recent council meeting.

The City Council voted unanimously last month to have Augusta join the lawsuit as a lead plaintiff.


“It’s an opportunity to prevail in this case as a plaintiff,” Langsdorf said, “to provide relief not only to the city, but to other cities and police departments across the country.”

The lawsuit was filed by Preti, Flaherty, Beliveau & Pachios.

Langsdorf said the city is expected to incur no cost by being involved in the class action lawsuit.

Mills, the city’s chief of police, declined to comment on the case, referring questions to Langsdorf.

Langsdorf said Wednesday the lawsuit speaks for itself, and he hopes it leads to Augusta and other municipalities recovering funds.

“This case concerns Axon’s scheme to unlawfully obtain and maintain its monopolies in two highly lucrative law enforcement and self-defense markets: long-range conducted energy weapons, which are commonly known by Axon’s brand name of ‘Taser’; and body-worn camera systems, which allow police departments to record, store and use video evidence collected while police officers are on duty,” the lawsuit reads.


“Axon facilitated its monopolies over long-range (Tasers) and (body-worn cameras) systems by acquiring its largest competitor in the (body-worn camera) system market, VieVu, from Safariland and signing 12-year non-compete, market allocation and no-poach agreements with Safariland to prevent Safariland from challenging its monopolies in either market. Axon enticed Safariland to agree to its acquisition by granting Safariland a preferred supply contract for Taser holsters.”

The lawsuit alleges tactics employed by the defendants “have led to higher prices than there would have been in competitive markets.”

Media contacts for the two companies could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

The Augusta Police Department does not have body cameras, but uses Tasers, which fire barbed probes at targets to deliver electrical current that temporarily incapacitates a person.

The lawsuit notes Axon, then known as Taser International, first developed the long-range devices in 2003.

The lawsuit also states the company’s “Taser X26 ‘captured the market’ by allowing police officers to easily and effectively disarm suspects from a safe distance, instead of forcing officers to make physical contact and risk hand-to-hand combat with a suspect when delivering the shock. Axon does not have any meaningful competition and dominates the … market.”

Axon also attained a dominant position in the body-worn camera system market, according to the lawsuit, and guarded that position by enforcing patents and signing long-term contracts with police departments, forcing competitors out of business and limiting the potential for new entrants.

When VieVu, an upstart in the body camera market owned by Safariland, emerged as a competitor, Axon acquired VieVu from Safariland in 2018, and entered into “several decade-plus-long market allocation agreements.” The lawsuit alleges they included a holster agreement in which Axon granted Safariland the status of preferred holster supplier to Axon’s Tasers, and Safariland agreed to refrain from developing a Taser-like device for 12 years.

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