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.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Sucks to be Taser

Autopsy: Teen hit by Taser died of cardiac arrest

The Charlotte Observer (5 July 2008) [LINK]

Doctor finds no pre-existing heart problems in youth who was shocked by police officer at grocery store. A 17-year-old shocked with a Taser by police after an altercation at a northern Charlotte grocery store died from cardiac arrest, according to an autopsy released Friday.

Darryl Wayne Turner's heart was pumping so fast and chaotically from the Taser shot and stress of the confrontation that it stopped pumping blood properly. He died of acute ventricular dysrhythmia and ventricular fibrillation, according to the Mecklenburg medical examiner's office.

Turner was the first Taser-related fatality in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's history and the youngest in the Carolinas this decade.

Police confronted an “agitated” Turner on March 20 during an argument with his manager of a Prosperity Church Road grocery store. Police said Turner threw something at a manager, ignored commands and advanced toward Officer Jerry Dawson Jr., who deployed a Taser. The energy weapon struck Turner in the chest, and he fell to the carpeted floor.

“This lethal disturbance in the heart rhythm was precipitated by the agitated state and associated stress as well as the use of the conducted energy weapon (Taser) designed for incapacitation through electro-muscular disruption,” Dr. Thomas Owens wrote in the autopsy. Owens found no pre-existing heart problems.

Turner worked at the Food Lion store, where he was a cashier and bagged groceries. Documents state he was asked by a manager to leave the store but refused. Police said Officer Jerry Dawson Jr., a 15-year veteran, fired his Taser to get Turner under control after the teen advanced toward him. An attorney representing the family says he talked to a witness who refutes the account.

An April study by the Taser Safety Project [LINK] found that the improper use of Tasers has contributed to the deaths of at least 11 people in North Carolina over the past four years. The autopsy cites a National Institute of Justice study that concludes that while Tasers devices are not risk-free, there is “no conclusive medical evidence” indicating a high risk of serious injury.


I believe that most taser critics are not claiming that there is a high risk of significant injury (or death). We're concerned that there may be a moderate or low risk (depending on how you structure the question). And as has been admitted even by taser fan-boys, dart placement (i.e. pure luck) may be a significant part of the overall safety margin.

Note that Turner was hit in the chest (as opposed to in the back like all those FAKE training and demonstration deployments that Taser claims to support their theories of safety).

The incident is also a clear example where it is unlikely in the extreme that the police officer would have had any legal justification to use lethal force. So the argument that 'a taser is better than a gun' does not apply here (in common with the vast majority of taser deployments).

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