Mission Statement - De-Spinning the Pro-Taser Propaganda

Yeah right, 'Excited Delirium' my ass...


The primary purpose of this blog is to provide an outlet for my observations and analysis about tasers, taser "associated" deaths, and the behaviour exhibited by the management, employees and minions of Taser International. In general, everything is linked back to external sources, often via previous posts on the same topic, so that readers can fact-check to their heart's content. This blog was started in late-2007 when Canadians were enraged by the taser death of Robert Dziekanski and four others in a short three month period. The cocky attitude exhibited by the Taser International spokespuppet, and his preposterous proposal that Mr. Dziekanski coincidentally died of "excited delirium" at the time of his taser-death, led me to choose the blog name I did and provides my motivation. I have zero financial ties to this issue.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Taser HQ rocked by blast, seven injured

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/taser-explosion-injuries-arizona-1.3223737 Seems to be an industrial accident. But details sparse.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Taser acknowledges that X26 lacks safety "enhancements"

"Taser spokesman told KENS 5 Tuesday the X26 is a 2003 model that lacks substantial safety enhancements..." [LINK]

Thursday, June 5, 2014

This isn't supposed to happen here anymore

Tasered man dies, and it happened in B.C. of course. [LINK] Here's the part that, if accurate, is simply unacceptable.
Police said the man....did not comply with their demands and a Taser was used to [kill] him.
Lack of compliance is not an acceptable justification for use of potentially, and in this case presumably actually, deadly force. Braidwood was quite clear on this, and his recommendations were supposed to have been implemented in policy and training. Tasers are NOT to be used for compliance. If the CBC report is accurate, then this is an outrage. It would be a direct violation of all the lessons learned from the tasered-caused death of Robert Dziekanski. If this report is accurate, then those involved need to suffer the same administrative and legal fate as those four officers that were involved in the death of Dziekanski.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Darryll Turner 4th Circuit Appeal Taser failed to warn

Taser International loses significant appeal. http://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Published/121617.P.pdf Some are assuming that the above may have played a role in Taser International's decision to settle their other cases. I believe that all this relates to only one of several taser death mechanisms. I believe that their liability continues in cases that are not straight cardiac effect death. But that's just my opinion. Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Taser paying millions in settlements

Taser International is paying MILLIONS to settle lawsuits. [LINK]

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Taser death of Robert Dziekanski is ruled homicide

The Coroner's Report has finally been issued, dated March 20, 2013. [LINK] The taser caused death of Robert Dziekanski has finally been official declared a "homicide". This term does not mean murder nor does it assign blame. It means that Mr Dziekanski did not "die", he was killed. What killed him? The taser of course. The Braidwood Inquiry previously found that the single most significant thing that happened between being alive and being dead was the taser hit. It was the primary factor. The Coroner's Report is in keeping with the findings of the Braidwood Inquiry. Tasers can kill. Not all the time of course, but it's a damn lie to claim that they're "safe". The folks that make this sort of claim are either thick or deceptive, or potentially both.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

'Qualified Immunity' revoked for excess tasering

The 4th Circuit revived claims that Baltimore police officer Stephen Mee killed Ryan Meyers by using his taser 10 times while responding to a domestic violence call in 2007. ... Once Meyers was down, Mee used his taser an additional seven times, ultimately killing the 40-year-old... The Meyers do have a case as to the subsequent seven firings of the taser. "It is an excessive and unreasonable use of force for a police officer repeatedly to administer electrical shocks with a taser on an individual who no longer is armed, has been brought to the ground, has been restrained physically by several other officers, and no longer is actively resisting arrest," Keenan wrote. "...additional taser shocks violated Ryan's Fourth Amendment right to be free from the use of excessive and unreasonable force. Accordingly, we hold that the District Court erred in concluding that Officer Mee met his burden of proving that he was entitled to qualified immunity." [LINK]

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

U of Cincinnati pays $2M in Taser death case

The University of Cincinnati will pay $2 million and suspend the use of Tasers by university police as part of a settlement with the family of a student who died after being shocked with a Taser. The settlement, obtained Wednesday by the Enquirer, also requires UC to create a memorial for the student, to provide free tuition to his siblings and to send a letter to the family expressing regret over the incident. The student, Everette Howard Jr., died Aug. 6, 2011, after a confrontation with a UC police officer. A coroner’s investigation could not determine the cause of death, but Howard’s family and expert witnesses blamed the shock from the Taser. ...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Family of Brian Cardell achieve settlement

The family of Brian Cardell has reached a settlement with the police [LINK]. Brian Cardell died immediately after being tasered. Tasers can and do kill.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Taser International's own "Dr." Mark (not an MD) Kroll meddling in taser death investigations

"Dr." Mark Kroll (not an M.D.) "...has helped law enforcement with many similar cases around the country and asked me to send an arrest-related death evidence outline that he developed,” Carns wrote. "While not necessarily relevant to this case, I have also attached an excited delirium check list he developed and published with several excited delirium experts." [LINK] Sleazy.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Macadam Mason death caused by taser

An electrical discharge from a Vermont state trooper’s Taser weapon caused the death of a Thetford man three months ago outside his home, the New Hampshire Medical Examiner’s Office advised Vermont State Police Friday. Macadam Mason, 39, suffered “sudden cardiac death due to conducted electrical weapon discharge,” Vermont State Police reported late Friday afternoon in a statement relaying the conclusions from Mason’s autopsy in New Hampshire. Mason died June 20 outside his Thetford home after Senior Trooper David Shaffer fired his Taser at Mason’s chest. ...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Forbes: "Taser remains 'an execution story'."

... J.P. Morgan analyst Paul Coster... ...writes in a research note that Taser remains “an execution story,” ...
Yes. Sometimes that's exactly true.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Macadam Mason taser-death autopsy report overdue

WHO'S HOLDING UP AUTOPSY OF VERMONT MAN'S TASER DEATH IN JUNE? [LINK] None of the officials involved in Vermont's first taser death will explain why it's almost three months since a Vermont State trooper tasered Macadam Mason, a 39-year-old epileptic artist who died almost immediately, and there's still no completed autopsy report. ...

Monday, September 10, 2012

How Taser International meddles in taser-death medical inquiries

Taser writes investigators, medical examiner, in death of Thetford man [LINK] The day following Macadam Mason’s death, Vermont State Police held a news conference and said, in part, that the Thetford man died after being shot in the chest by a Trooper’s Taser. Less than four hours after the conference, a Taser International spokesman e-mailed State Police suggestions on how to conduct its investigation and asked the agency to forward information to the medical examiners conducting an autopsy on Mason’s body. “The attending medical examiners should urgently know that the University of Miami [a.k.a. Excited-Delirium-R-Us] Brain Endowment Bank is available with cutting edge research center that can determine drug abuse and look for excited delirium markers,” Taser International spokesman Steve Tuttle wrote in the e-mail. ...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Trial Lawyer's Guide To Taser Lawsuits

The Trial Lawyer's Guide To Taser Lawsuits [LINK].

Contains details and advice for lawyers considering and evaluating these types of cases.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Warren Police Department drops Tasers after shocking letter from manufacturer

...After receiving an email that X26 and M26 Tasers more than 5 years old with certain serial numbers are past the recommended "deployment lifecycle"... Police officials said their review found that the Tasers were used unsuccessfully 23 percent of the time they were used by Warren officers... [LINK]
Did they mention "deployment lifespan" when they sold them to you? How long did you think that a cheaply-made plastic gun was going to last? Stun Gun salesmen... Have they got a deal for you...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tracing false logic to the likely source

In Grimolfson's case, "a few minutes passed, not seconds, from the time of last Taser use to time of unconsciousness; therefore, the Taser use is not a relevant factor," the judge wrote.
This claim can probably be traced back to "Dr." (not an MD last time I checked) and Taser International insider Mark Kroll. Kroll has been wrong multiple times on the subject of taser safety. His infamous "Cardiac Safety" ping-pong paper webpage was silently withdrawn from the Taser International website. Kroll consistently denied that tasers could cause death, now it's an established fact that tasers can and do cause and contribute to death. The Judge's statement is not supportable except by reference to "expert" speculation by those that have been wrong many times before. Many taser associated deaths have followed the pattern of: tasered, difficulty breathing, lack of response, and death several minutes after the taser hit. The likely mechanism is arythmia, but it's not my place to make uninformed speculation.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

American Heart Association: Tasers can be cause of death

Scottsdale, AZ - An article just published by the American Heart Association's premier journal, Circulation, presents the first ever scientific, peer-reviewed evidence that tasers can cause cardiac arrest and death. ... The conclusions of Dr. Zipes' article, which looks at eight cases involving the Taser X26 states: "ECD stimulation can cause cardiac electric capture and provoke cardiac arrest resulting from ventricular tachycardia/ventricular fibrillation.  After prolonged ventricular tachycardia/ventricular fibrillation without resuscitation, asystole develops." ...[LINK]

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sheriff's Sgt sentenced to 5 years for taser-as-punishment

Birmingham, AL - Former Tuscaloosa County sheriff's sergeant Althea Mallisham was sentenced today to five years in prison on federal charges that she wrongfully used a Taser as punishment on prisoners on three separate occasions in 2008. ... [LINK]

Saturday, April 7, 2012

'Papa' Phillips W. Smith-4-Brains loses house

Papa Phillips W. Smith-4-Brains loses house [LINK]

$10,500,000. M56 Place LLC, a New Mexico limited-liability company, paid cash for a seven-bedroom, 10-bath, 17,015-square-foot home, which includes a 1,854-square-foot guesthouse and 3,000-square-foot pool, built in 2009 on nearly 5 acres at Mummy Mountain Estates in Paradise Valley. ... The home was sold by BMO Harris Bank of Milwaukee, after original owner Phillips W. Smith returned it to the bank to avoid foreclosure. In 2001, Smith bought Taser International Inc. He has been chairman emeritus of Taser since October 2006 and served as its chairman until then.

Fancy house built in 2009, but he couldn't afford to keep it.

Tom's gone AWOL. Pappa suffering financially.

Karma's a bitch, eh?

See also [LINK].

... 35,000-square-foot mansion in Paradise Valley sold for $10.5 million... The house, situated on 5 acres, was once owned by Phillips Smith, former chairman of Taser International. He gave the home back to lender M&I Bank in 2011. ... The house was originally listed for $20 million, and then lowered to $15.9 million. ... Smith lived in the home and maintained it until the sale... [in late-March 2012]

Taser expert (LOL) opens mouth to reveal empty head

Taser almost certainly triggers fatal car fire [LINK]

..."The possibility is there, but it has to be what we call 'the perfect storm'… the perfect fuel-to-air-to-spark ratio," said Keiko Arroyo, who is the chief instructor at Absolute Tactical Training in University Heights. "It would have to be the right amount of gas and fume mixture in the air to set it off… It's possible, but probably not probable."

Arroyo speaks nonsense. What? Gasoline is now not flammable?

The air-fuel mixture need not be "perfect", it need only be reasonable. Claiming that gasoline fumes are not flammable unless the air-fuel mixture is perfect is utterly stupid. If flammable substances similar to gasoline fumes are present, then a taser spark would ignite them almost every time.

"Not probable" my ass.

Even Taser International clearly warns against this.

If Arroyo has a "certificate" from Taser International, it should be revoked. He's obviously not reading the f-ing manual.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"This one will stick."

First posted WEDNESDAY, JULY 20, 2011:

Taser International found liable in killing of Darryl Turner

Taser International, manufacturer of potentially lethal stun guns, was found partially responsible for the death of 17-year-old Darryl Turner after police in Charlotte, N.C., used a Taser device on him during an altercation at a grocery store on March 21, 2008.

Mr. Turner was young and in generally good health, was tasered and was dead almost immediately.

Taser International was ruled responsible for about $9.23 million of the total award; about $6 million of that will be covered by insurance. The city of Charlotte will cover $730,000 as part of a settlement, and $40,000 will be covered by workers’ compensation insurance.

The $3M+ judgment not covered by their insurance consumes their potential profit for even a good year; and that's going to bite very hard. The next pain they feel will be when their insurance carrier(s) realize that this is the new trend. The third pain will be when the investors (a.k.a. morons) read about this and start complaining.

I've not been posting much recently, primarily because I've been waiting for this day.

Taser International can appeal this judgment all they want. The cold hard fact remains that their "safe" product killed Darryl Turner directly.

This one will stick.

The judgment was reduced to about $4M, but the legal findings and the fantastic legal loss stand.

Tasers can kill. Through various mechanisms.

Taser International knew about these risks, but failed to warn.

They're heavily liable in who-knows-how-many other cases. Case law has been established.

Court upholds ruling: Tasers kill

Taser International "...knew its weapon could kill..."

A legal blow to the maker of Tasers as controversy grows over the weapon's safety.
Taser International lost its appeal Tuesday in the most costly case against the company to date. Last summer, a jury awarded the family of Darryl Turner, who died after being tasered, $10 million, ruling that TASER knew its weapon could kill and did not properly warn police.
On appeal, the U.S. District Court Western District of N. Carolina Charlotte Division ruled in favor of the plaintiff on all objections, but did rule the damage award “excessive" and reduced it in half to $5 million. "This is a huge victory for safety," said plaintiff attorney John Burton, "…and people concerned that this device is being given to police with false assurances of its safety." Burton added, "The judge viewed the evidence and said the jury was justified in its conclusion." Dr. Douglas Zipes, an electrophysiologist who testified for the plaintiff that Tasers could kill, said the reduction of the award was fair, and that the court's ruling "totally vindicates what we said, that Taser causes sudden death and the judge accepts that concept." There has been no comment yet from Taser International. ... MORE-> [LINK]

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Cpl. Benjamin Monty Robinson found guilty of Obstruction

Cpl. Benjamin Monty Robinson was found guilty Friday of obstruction of justice in connection to a fatal traffic accident in which he was involved while off duty. [LINK]

Robinson is one of four officers charged in the death of Robert Dziekanski, who was jolted several times with a Taser at Vancouver's airport in 2007. All four are scheduled to stand trial on Perjury charges in 2013.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Tom Smith-4-Brains resigns from Taser Board of Directors

If I'm getting the news correct, then he's still going to be CEO.

His place in history: 
Taser International under Tom's watch. [LINK]

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Braidwood on "excited delirium"

In a 1,000-page report, Braidwood concluded... [LINK]

... It is not helpful to characterise people displaying these behaviours as suffering from "excited delirium". Doing so implies that excited delirium is a medical condition or diagnosis, when mental health professionals uniformly reject that suggestion.

Assigning responsibility to such symptoms (in the guise of a diagnosis) conveniently avoids having to examine the underlying medical condition or conditions that actually caused death, let alone examining whether use of the conducted energy weapon and/or subsequent measures to physically restrain the subject contributed to those causes of death. ...

This conclusion is perfectly clear.

BBC FileOn4: Deaths involving police restraint

BBC audio PodCast webpage [LINK]

In the podcast (starting at about 6m00s into the podcast), Dr. 'Excited Delirium' Mash describes a typical "excited delirium" death as a long sequence of events, eventually leading to the police applying restraint, and "...the next minute they're dead."

That's exactly what she said.

Dr. Mash has repeatedly claimed that deaths following this sequence are "caused" by the underlying symptoms, and that the police restraint is not a cause of death. Her unproven theories regarding "excited delirium" have been used to take the focus off of police restraint techniques and how some are potentially more dangerous than others.

She then explains (at 6m30s), "...proximity is not causality...".

The obvious logical error that she makes here is that close temporal proximity - combined with consistent ordering (restraint -> death) - clearly does imply causality.

If these subjects are about to die "...the next minute...", then the police are too late to save the subject's life. They should, regrettably, stand back for the additional minute and allow the person to die without police putting themselves into legal jeopardy by applying restraint during the death.

(NOTE: The above paragraph is a Reductio Ad Absurdum and is intended to demonstrate that theory being proposed by Dr. Mash is absurd.)

Dr. Mash is not so thick that she doesn't understand cause-and-effect and inductive logic. So why does she ignore basic logic? Why indeed...? Why are there strange links between her and Taser International? [LINK]

To be clear - I have no explanation and I'm not implying anything. I'm just pointing out that her logic is twisted into nonsense, and her conclusions about excited delirium as a purported cause of death are extremely "unhelpful".

Deaths involving police restraint under-reported in UK [LINK]

Why are police restraint-associated deaths in the UK being under-reported?

Why do they propose to delay (for an entire year) providing a correct report?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Taser Quote of the Month - 'not quite as safe as I thought'

I don't think they are quite as safe and useful as I once believed. Const. Daniel Dickhout [LINK]

Tasers continue to be marketed under false claims of safety. Marketing claims that are contradicted by the company's legal fine print.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Taser International on the losing end of legal battles with Karbon Arms

File under: LOSERS

25 January 2012 - Karbon Arms ... prevailed [over Taser International] in the U.S. District Court. ...Taser International [had] falsely accused Karbon Arms of violating a court ordered injunction. Karbon was vindicated of the baseless allegation by Rick Smith, Taser's CEO, that Karbon is "seeking to evade the Court's injunction through subversive means." ...

In addition to this victory, in December 2011, the U.S. Patent Office completed a re-examination of Karbon's patent number 7,778,005 and found in favor of Karbon Arms. Taser requested this re-examination in May 2011. ... [LINK]

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Joe Arpaio’s officer tasered Latino veteran that ended up dead

Video Shows Joe Arpaio’s Officer Used Taser On Latino Vet Who Later Died

Doctors found no drugs or alcohol in his system.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Another good summary...

Note - this info goes way beyond what the manufacturer will admit, so the certified taser "experts" will not be aware of any of this.

The 1999-era M26 taser has a waveform that actually is a very short pulse of high frequency. These two characteristics actually did help to make it arguably reasonably "safe" with respect to direct cardiac effects.

Where it all went wrong was the 2003-era X26 taser. They changed the output waveform to also include a DC offset pulse that repeats at the 19Hz PRF. This component (the majority) of the output waveform is no longer short duration and no longer high frequency. They've unintentionally abandoned two key safety features for a trivial 5% increase in effectivity. The death rate PER DEPLOYMENT approximately doubled with the introduction of the X26 taser. The overall taser-associated death rate jumped from several per YEAR to about ten per MONTH.

Even one of the company's own experts has confirmed that the M26 has a wider safety margin than the X26. In other words, they've confirmed exactly what I've stated above.

For those that still refuse to accept the cause-and-effect relationship between being tasered and sometimes being dead, please respond to the taser's 'Curious Temporal Asymmetry' argument (Google the phrase).

For those that still feel that "tasers are safer than guns", please realize that tasers replace lower and safer forms of force in 99+% of all deployments. So your point is obviously true, but rarely applicable.

To be clear, the evil swirling around tasers is related to the waveform design error that makes the X26 far more potentially deadly than is reasonable, and the false claims by the manufacturer regarding the risk of death from the X26 taser. It's the false claims about safety that increase the usage pattern to the point where all sorts of people are being tasered, and the occasional non-violent subject is being killed by police (that have been fooled by the false claims).

I hope that this detail helps to clarify the complicated background of the actual problem with tasers.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ken Harris talks about $10 million Taser verdict

Old news (summer 2011), but still fresh: [LINK]

This is in connection to the taser-caused death of Darryl Turner, a 17-year-old student. Turner was killed by a taser hit directly to the chest.

Taser International continues to deny that the taser can kill in that manner, while simultaneously updating their fine-print legal warning language to warm of the same risk. I'll leave it to reader to calculate the morality of their two-faced approach.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Four RCMP Officers to stand trial for perjury

CTV News:

The four RCMP officers who tasered [TO DEATH] Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver airport in October, 2007 will stand trial on perjury charges. ... [LINK]

Const. Bill Bentley
Const. Kwesi Millington
Const. Gerry Rundell
Cpl. Benjamin Robinson

*Because* they had a taser, it became a taser incident. The use of the taser led directly to the death of Mr. Dziekanski. Then they lamely tried to cover it up.

If they didn't have a taser, it's overwhelmingly likely that Mr. Dziekanski would not have been killed.

What about Taser International's hired help? They also "testified" at the Braidwood Inquiry and much of what they claimed is clearly incorrect, and they know it. Perhaps they should also be held to account?

Friday, November 25, 2011

TASER basics: What every judge and jury should know

Tasers are potentially dangerous and it should not be a surprise to anyone that their use can occasionally cause and/or contribute to death.

PS: Meyer and his fans should look up Feynman on the distinction between 'Naming' and 'Knowing'. Meyer's column (14 Nov. 2011) is simply infested with plenty of 'Naming', but it reveals he's arguably a bit weak on the 'Knowing' front (apparently getting *all* of his information [vocabulary of taser-speak] from his sometimes "sponsor", Taser International).

Tasers are NOT "non-lethal"...

...and why the false claim is so dangerous.

Even the OEM [Taser International] has ever-so-slowly changed their tune and they now use the near-meaningless phrase "less than lethal". They've also added more and more direct health risks to their warnings. It's also a cold hard fact that some subjects have been in perfect health one moment and dead the next, and coroners have attributed some deaths to the taser's effects. Dr. Zipes, one of the world's leading experts in the field, has concluded that the OEM has systematically understated the risks. Canada's Braidwood Inquiry concluded that tasers can cause and contribute to death, and the OEM's appeal was tossed out of court.

Of course the taser death rate is low by any standard, but that misses the point.
The point is that false claims that tasers are inherently and always "non-lethal" is dangerously misleading and such false claims lead directly to the overuse of tasers in non-violent encounters (many examples). The result is often a net increase in the level of violence introduced into non-violent situations, and subjects being killed where it should not have happened. Not even touching on the entire torture question... Many hundreds of directly related lawsuits are costing US cities millions and millions and millions of dollars.

It's obvious that the *only* correct approach is to treat these weapons as "potentially lethal" (banish the misleading and dangerous concept of them being "non-lethal") and invoke strict policy that only allows their use immediately below lethal force (a huge narrowing of their too frequent misuse as a compliance [torture] tool). Such a better-informed approach eliminates virtually all of the misapplications while sticking closer to the advantage that tasers are obviously less lethal than gun fire.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

$1,000,000 "...a litigation settlement for an officer injury during arrest..."

Stupid is as Stupid pays.

A source tells me that Taser International’s Annual Report for 2010 (Form 10K) includes the following tidbit:

...a charge of approximately $1.0 million relating to a litigation settlement for an officer injury during arrest claim, included in other expense...

So, if you're a Police Officer that has been let down by the unreliable and sometimes ineffective taser, leading to an on the job injury, the line forms here.


Friday, November 11, 2011

National Institute of Justice connects use of tasers to "causing....death"

CBS News - A National Institute of Justice study concludes some police are going to their Tasers to subdue suspects 'way too fast' causing unnecessary pain and, in some cases, death. ...[LINK]

Yes, tasers can sometimes cause death.