Mission Statement - De-Spinning the Pro-Taser Propaganda

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

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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.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

More flaws in the logic...

Let's take the IEEE Spectrum article apart a bit more:

"Equipping law-enforcement services with Tasers is likely to reduce the number of bullets officers fire from their handguns and therefore the number of serious injuries and deaths."

Well, scroll down this blog and you'll see a CBC article that states that the taser has NOT reduced the number of police shootings. This is because the taser is actually being used more often as a Pain Compliance (Torture) Device, or Extra-Judicial On-the-spot Punishment Device, rather than a replacement for a police revolver. The 620 usages per day prove the same point.

"The arcing phase has an open‑circuit peak voltage of 50 000 volts; that is, the voltage is 50 kilovolts only until the arc appears or until the barbs make contact with conductive flesh, which in the worst conditions offers aroun 400 ohms of resistance... The target's body is never exposed to the 50 kV."

This is word-smithing. Whatever peak current is created with the 50kV pulse is passing through the very long (likely coiled) wires that trail back from the victim to the device. Those (likely coiled) leads have inductance. Any first-year student of basic electrical theory should know that inductance tends to retard changes in current. So once a peak current is flowing it will continue to flow for some period even after the source terminates it.

It is probably true that most of the voltage will be expended across the arcs, but that misses the point. And I suspect this word-smithing is intentional, because the author well knows that it is all about peak currents, not peak voltages. I find that his wording, which draws attention to the 50kV in his left hand, while he slips the peak current into his pocket with his right hand, to be intellectually dishonest.

"The X26—the model commonly used by police departments—delivers a peak voltage of 1200 V to the body."

Same thing here.

"Once the barbs establish a circuit, the gun generates a series of 100-microsecond pulses at a rate of 19 per second. Each pulse carries 100 microcoulombs of charge, so the average current is 1.9 milliamperes. To force the muscles to contract without risking electrocution, the signal was designed to exploit the difference between heart muscle and skeletal muscle."

Several points here.

If you look at the chart (Link= Chart) you can see that the average taser current is shown as being about ten times less than that required to 'Locks up muscles', but but but... THAT'S WHAT IT DOES !!!!!

Also, I think that it is common knowledge that the taser causes EXTREME pain. The chart shows the taser dot being just above the pain curve. This is so misleading as to be preposterous.

Finally, Taser has also recently been forced to admit that the taser devices can impair breathing.

So it is slowly creeping up the chart... ...getting much closer to the 'heart' curve. And noticed the wording on the heart problems. It implies maybe, perhaps, possibly a delayed death.

What the hell is this?

Do you smell the faint whiff of propaganda? Or is it more like a blatant stench?

[Copyright note: Fair Use claimed for purposes including education, criticism, public safety.]

LEVELS OF SHOCK: The Taser X26 puts out 2 milliamperes at 19 hertz. The gun packs its current into 100-microsecond pulses, so it can capture muscle with lower current than if it had been delivered as a sine wave, as the rest of the chart shows.

"at 19 hertz", Oh, not 50 or 100 kHz?

Didn't they just quote 50 or 100 kHz to escape from Ruggieli? And now they admit that the waveform is PRIMARILY 19 Hz. These guys probably keep a copy of Sun Tzu's 'The Art of War' on their bedside table. Chapter on 'Deception' well-thumbed.

Sigh...

The keyword is average. "...the average current is 1.9 milliamperes.."

Let's try to do the math. 19 pulses per second, each pulse 100 microseconds long. So that is 1,900 microseconds of juice, and rest is dead air. So the peak current (assuming a flat-top squarewave, which is not likely, which in turn makes it worse) is something like 1/(1900/1000000) = 526 times larger.

526 times 1.9 milliamperes = 1000 milliamperes (or about 1 Amp).

1 Amp is a huge current to be flowing through the human body [see later updates!].

This calculation assumes a perfectly rectangular pulse shape. If it isn't, then the peak is higher.

Do you smell the faint whiff of propaganda?

The Ground Fault Interrupters (GFI) devices are designed to cut the power if they detect a possible ground current of just a few milliamps. This is because it has been established that something like 5mA can be lethal, so the GFI devices protect humans by cutting the power if the leakage current is anywhere close to this value.

And note this: The GFI design values includes all that gobblegy-gook about the difference between heart muscle and skeletal muscle. Even after all that is taken into account, the safe value is still just a few milliamps, and averages don't necessarily enter into it (in the absence of extensive clinical trails with hundreds of subjects).

I'll repeat another point. If what he is claiming was true, then you could connect a taser to a victim, tie the trigger down with duct tape, and leave him to quiver overnight, and the victim would be unharmed. I suggest that we run this trial on the author.

Also, lacking from the discussion are the actual electrical schematics of the taser devices. One thing I would like to double-check is to make sure that any resistors that are being used to limit the currents in the output circuit are rated and certified for use in 50kV circuits. Typically resistors certified for that sort of voltage range are quite large physically (several inches). If they're using an off-the-shelf resistor in critical (life-support) parts of the circuit, then they might be liable for creating a dangerous product. Non-certified resistors could well arc and become essentially bypassed allowing unknown, uncontrolled currents to pass through the victims body.

This is the sort of question where The Regulators (hello?) should be in Taser's shorts.

"Skeletal muscle constitutes 40 percent of a typical person's mass..."

Bwa ha ha ha ha... Has the author been out much? 50 percent of the average American is blubber. Is this the sort of flawed logic that is making them blind to the reality on the street? Things are a wee bit loonie in Taserville.

[This posting has been updated and corrected. The article does in fact mention the 3A peak current from the X26, but not the 15A peak current of the M26.]

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