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.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Recommending policy - what's the truth ????

"TASER International does not create, recommend, or endorse policy."

Extracted from a presentation dated 07-16-07 by Michael Brave, Esq., M.S., C.L.S.3, C.L.E.T., C.P.S., C.S.T. National Litigation Counsel, TASER International, Inc.

[Check-out the alphabet soup... geesh.]

Compare and contrast the above claim to this news report extract:

Glens Falls (NY) Police use the policy recommended by stun gun maker Taser International to guide when and how the tasers are used. Bethel would not release that policy, saying City Lawyer Ronald Newell's opinion was that the policy should not be released, for safety reasons... [LINK]

Other reports ([LINK]*) say 95% of agencies do the same thing: use policies recommended by Taser.

(* ACLU-NC: The company continues to downplay safety concerns and bills its product as “non-lethal.” Taser’s reluctance to acknowledge potential dangers is particularly disturbing as over 95% of surveyed police departments rely on use policies supplied entirely by the manufacturer.)


So what is the actual truth?

Either the news reports are incorrect (seems unlikely), or Taser is not telling the truth (?), or perhaps Mr. Brave is unaware of what the Smith Bros. have been up to (?).

Please feel free to leave comments explaining this discrepancy. I'm very open to getting some additional information regarding this discrepancy.

This is potentially huge...

Deserves a six-figure settlement (minimum)

[IDIOT] Cincinnati officer faulted for using stun gun on [INNOCENT] teen [LINK]

CINCINNATI (AP) -- A police officer responding to a burglary alarm at a restaurant acted inappropriately when he used a stun gun on a high school student who didn't respond to the officer's commands to stop walking away from the scene, according to an internal investigation. Officer Andrew Mitchell fired the stun gun on Chris Bauer Jr. without first warning him, the report released Thursday by the city's police department said.

Bauer, 19, was walking in a parking lot with his hands in his pockets and his head down. He showed no signs he knew the officer was there nor displayed any signs of aggression or resistance, the report concluded. Bauer, who fell to the pavement and chipped a tooth, didn't hear the officer's commands because he was listening to his iPod, his attorney John Helbling said. Earphones and a portable audio device were found next Bauer, but Mitchell told investigators that he didn't think Bauer had been wearing the earphones. The issue was inconclusive [*], the internal report states.

[* No it isn't. If kids have iPods, then they're listening to them unless the battery is dead. This flimsy excuse is stupid, nonsensical and a flagrant attempt to find a reason to blame the victim. Yeah, good luck with that one.]

The review faults Mitchell for not verifying if a holdup had taken place and for failing to get a description of any suspects before telling Bauer to stop. A disciplinary hearing was scheduled for April 10. Kathy Harrell, a spokeswoman for the Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police, said Mitchell did what he felt was necessary. "This officer at the time had information that there was a robbery in progress," [**] she said. "There's an individual that's leaving at a quick pace, not obeying their orders."

[** No he didn't have information that there was "a robbery in progress". He had information that there was an alarm. He should arrive promptly and investigate with an open mind. Not start shooting off his weapons like an idiot. 'Quick pace' is probably normal walking speed for many people. Lunatic excuses. Hey Harrell, why not stop being an apologist for the idiot officer that made a very serious mistake?]

Bauer, who also suffered cuts to his face in the fall, has memory loss and other problems, his attorney said.


I recommend a minimum 6-figure settlement simply because we need to get the point across to the thick-headed that such behavior is not tolerated. Even $1 million wouldn't be out of line; and would certainly get their attention. A token settlement in the 5-figures range would simply fail to convey the seriousness of this incident.

This incident also reveals the lies and propaganda regarding the all-too-common real-world application of tasers.

Lie: "They're only used against violent criminals"
Truth: "...nor displayed any signs of aggression or resistance..."

Lie: Just obey and you won't get zapped:
Truth: "...didn't hear the officer's commands because he was listening to his iPod..."


These sorts of outlandish examples are coming out faster than Taser's stupid press releases about the occasional success stories.

Lack of evidence - choose your words carefully

Coroners and Medical Examiners, who are apparently spending more and more time looking at victims that have died shortly after being tasered, typically do not find any physical evidence of how the taser might have caused the death.

I'm still not sure what they think that they'd be looking for... (discussed in previous posts [LINK1] [LINK2] ).

Therefore, they often conclude, the taser incident that happened just before the death had nothing to do with the death. Instead, they sometimes use the phrase 'Excited Delirium' and list that as a cause of death.

Ah excuse me...

There's no physical evidence for the 'Excited Delirium' either.

Coroners being sued

Question: "Do you have any names of Coroners or Medical Examiners that are being (or have been sued) by Taser?"

Answer: Here ya go:

Link = http://www.nationalpost.com...

...After Roland M. Kohr, a coroner, spoke about his concerns with the death of an Indiana inmate who had been jolted with a Taser, the company sued him for defamation, product disparagement and other claims in 2005. He is not alone.

In November, 2006, Taser filed a lawsuit against a chief medical examiner in Ohio. The suit seeks to "correct erroneous cause-of-death determinations relating to the autopsy reports prepared by medical examiner Dr. Lisa Kohler, which associate the Taser device as being a contributing factor in the deaths of Richard Holcomb and Dennis Hyde," according to the company's filing with the SEC.

Friday, March 28, 2008

New math: 30% equals 65%

"Seventeen drivers in South Carolina have been tasered by Highway Patrol troopers. Eleven were African-Americans..." [LINK]

11/17 = 65%, but they account for only about 30% of the population of South Carolina.

Some might argue that seventeen is too small a sample size to determine a trend. Well maybe, but I'll bet that the trend doesn't change as the numbers inevitably grow.

Not good. Not good at all.




Blogwatch: 'Tasered While Black' [LINK]

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Compare and contrast

SAE J1766 'Recommended Practice for Electric and Hybrid Electric Vehicle Battery Systems Crash Integrity Testing': Using IEC 479-1 as a guide, a body current of 200 mA for 10 msec yields the lowest energy level that may produce a shock hazard. (Here a shock hazard is defined to be a body current / time duration that is in the DC-3 zone defined in IEC 479-1.) Assuming this minimum as an upper safety bound. Figure 1 below shows Current Duration versus Voltage at 200 mA for various energy levels. Using the target of 200 mA for less then 0.01 seconds as an upper safety bound, an energy of 0.4 J would satisfy the target values. A factor of two is included yielding the final energy limit of 0.2 J. [LINK]

Taser specification for M26 taser:
Power Output: 50,000 Volt (est.); 26 Watts; 162mA (Irms) and 1.76 Joules per pulse energy (Delivered into load: 0.50 joules)

At this point I would like to point out that 1.76 J (or even 0.5 J) is greater than 0.2 J (or even 0.4 J). No matter how you slice and dice it.

Also, you might wish to consider that Taser's 151 mA RMS for 5 seconds (or 5000 milliseconds) is huge in comparison to 200 mA for just 10 milliseconds.

Laugh-A-Minute

Iowa bill labels stun guns as 'dangerous weapons'

A stun gun would be officially classified as “dangerous weapon” under a bill state lawmakers are considering. ... Sen. Herman Quirmbach, a Democrat from Ames, pointed out that the law defines a dangerous weapon as a device designed primarily for inflicting death or injury. ... Stun guns would be lumped in with pistols, daggers, stilettos, switchblade knives and other weapons if this bill passes. House File 2628 was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee today; next stop is the full Senate.

[LINK]

It really must be a Laugh-A-Minute to work in the Public Relations department at Taser. Perhaps they'll be putting in another long day tomorrow to deal with this latest assault on the reputation of their products.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Googling 'IEC 479-1'

I was Googling 'IEC 479-1' (the electrocution standard that Taser and Ruggieri argued about) to see what's what, and I noted that THIS BLOG is the 7th hit followed directly by the pro-Taser website PoliceOne.com in 8th spot. It is nice to see that my rebuttal is ahead of the Taser press release about Ruggieri and IEC 479-1 (at least on Google.ca).

[LINK] <- My rebuttal to Taser's attempted escape from Ruggieri. It's good stuff.

Mr. Smith goes to Ottawa (30 Jan. 2008) - Transcript out

It took a while (I'm not sure exactly when this was released), but the complete minutes (transcript of the evidence) for Smith's appearance at SECU on 30 January 2008 are out. [LINK]

Minutes and Evidence for other SECU 'Taser Study' meetings are available here [LINK].

More later...

Death rate estimated - feel free to provide rebuttal

There's a subtle (not really) error, or propaganda trick, being tossed into the latest debate about the taser statistics in Canada.

First the taser advocates will rightly point out that a reported 'taser incident' does not always represent a complete deployment (where the victim is actually shocked). Even if the taser is just displayed as a deterrent, a formal 'taser incident' report may have to be filed. For that reason, the actual taser-shock incidents are not as common as the raw data may appear.

Fair enough. This is good news in that it reduces the actual taser abuse rate from the insanely ridiculous to the simply insane.

But then another taser advocate will use the same raw statistics to compute a flawed calculation purported to demonstrate the low risk of death.

Ah, wait a second...

Yes, displaying a taser as a deterrent probably won't kill anyone. Duh. Using a taser in Drive Mode (pressed into the victim) might be safer than shooting the X26 barbs across the chest where the current distribution may be more risky.

So let's review the stats with some estimates to compensate for this factor. This will be based on some guesstimates. If the RCMP would like to provide corrections, please - send them in.

2007 British Columbia: 496 taser incidents

How many were actual X26 barbs fired into the chest in B.C. during 2007? Probably a fairly small fraction of the raw 496 incident count. It seems (based on the news) that most taser deployments are in Drive Mode where the gun in pressed into the victim (often in the back - a possible self-evident indicator for torture as opposed to self-defence by the way).

Chest hits with the X26 are almost certainly less than 10% of the total taser incident rate. Almost certainly more than 2%. These are guesstimates to set reasonable bounds on the secret data. If anyone has actual deployment data, then please feel free to provide it.

So lets choose 5% (a guesstimate) as the precentage of these 'taser incidents' where the X26 was actually fired AND the X26 barbs landed somewhere on the chest. This (5% of 496) is the required denominator for the calculation. So, roughly 25 taserings across the chest in British Columbia during 2007.

It might be 50; it might be 10. Something roughly in that range. If you have a more reliable number, please - send it in.

Deaths in British Columbia 2007: Either one or two (Robert Dziekanski killed Oct. 2007, and Robert Knipstrom, died Nov. 2007). This is the required numerator for the calculation.

Result: 1 or 2 deaths divided by roughly 25 full-on X26 deployments = about a 6% death rate

Might be 1% (maybe). Might be 10% (maybe). Might be a bit higher. Might be a bit lower.

This finding is reasonably aligned with the common sense reaction to the spate of taser-associated deaths in Canada in late 2007. There were FIVE during THREE MONTHS (September to November 2007). That's what caught the attention of Canadians.

So the taser is not quite as bad as Russian Roulette (1 bullet in 6 chambers), but it's still arguably dangerous if the X26 barbs land in a worst case location and other factors (luck, fitness, who knows?) conspire against you.

"Safer than Tylenol" my ass.

More on the tragic Turner incident

More news on the tragic Darryl Turner taser death incident. [LINK]

File under 'So What?': "...had marijuana hidden in his socks."

You may recall that I previous wrote, "Might as well blame his shoes." Well, blaming a bit of weed in his socks is just as silly.

File under 'I Told You So': "Preliminary autopsy results show no obvious cause of death, the medical examiner's office said."

Please review: LINK= What exactly would you be looking for?

'News & Record' tells it like it is...

The News & Record newspaper of Greensboro, NC tells it like it is. No holds barred.

[Quote - emphasis added]

Deadly Taser use demands thorough, open investigation

Tuesday, Mar. 25, 2008 3:00 am

A police officer doesn't use a Taser when deadly force is needed. So when a stun gun kills, as it did last week in Charlotte, something went wrong. There must be a thorough and transparent investigation to find out why.

The victim was Darryl Wayne Turner, only 17. He was having an angry argument with his supervisor at a grocery store when police were called. An officer arrived, and a "highly agitated" Turner "advanced" at the officer, refusing commands to stop, police said. The officer responded with the Taser. Turned collapsed and was taken to a hospital, where he died.

The Taser is a legitimate tool for police officers who need to subdue someone without using a firearm. It's not considered life-threatening -- yet it obviously has the potential to kill. For that reason, officers faced with the choice of using a Taser or not must consider the worst possibility and make absolutely certain of the necessity.

Officers who assume a weapon won't cause serious harm might be too quick to use it. But that's not a safe assumption about a Taser.

An investigation must determine whether there were medical factors or other circumstances that contributed to Turner's death. It also must review the events that led to the officer's decision. Would some other action have been better? These questions have to be answered openly.

Tasers are employed widely by law-enforcement agencies. They're carried by officers on some Guilford County school campuses. Parents, and the general public, deserve to know about the lethal potential of these weapons, and they need to be satisfied that well-trained officers will use them only when absolutely required.

When someone dies, particularly a young person, it's critical to know why it happened and how it could have been avoided.

[End Quote]

[LINK]

They should publish the inevitable legal demand letter from Taser. And then publicly reply to Taser with a politely-worded 'Get Stuffed' editorial.

Taser spokespuppet drawn-and-quartered

Attention - do not miss the exchange of comments on the previous post.

Someone going by the username 'gettir' is either Taser's famous Dr. Kroll himself, or someone cutting-and-pasting Dr. Kroll's exact words.

Normally, I'd just delete such propaganda from Taser spokespuppets left as comments (as warned by the notice at the top of the comment section of this blog), but since this is the first clear example of such rubbish, I thought I take the time to draw-and-quarter the pathetic arguments and hang the remains on the city gate as warning to other Taser spokespuppets.

Quick link to comment war: [LINK]

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Propaganda is apparently working in some cases...

On the recent CBC News item, people have been leaving comments [LINK]. Most are good comments, but the paid Taser spokespuppet David E. Zuskin made a predictable appearance under the name 'Proud American' with his trademark ALL CAPS idiot company slogan. A few comments are laughably ill-informed or simply insane:

Yorkke wrote: Let's remember that every cop who uses a taser has been tased themselves. How many died? Zero. How many injured? Zero.

Rebuttal: First, police are almost never tasered across the chest. Usually just on the back in Drive Mode (closely spaced contacts). This provides an extremely low cardiac risk to due to the very short current path between the gun-mounted probes (nowhere near the heart). Sometimes they're tasered just down one leg (harmless). Second, many police HAVE been injured (many back injuries). Some claim thousands have been injured and the records shredded (Pamela Schreiner) - this allegation has not been proven. Taser admits quite a few injuries in their annual report. Many agencies have stopped the stupid practice of tasering students due to too many injuries.

Zambo0518 wrote:
I have a problem with the citizens who suppose to be respect the officers. I would say, whoever running away from the officer, or disrespect the officer should be tasered. It is so simple.

Rebuttal: Oh-my-God.


[ATTENTION: Don't miss the comment war: -------\/]

"Excited Delirium" - puhleeze, it's a crap excuse.

Taser Death Possibly Attributed to Excited Delirium Syndrome [LINK]

We are still waiting on the autopsy results for a Charlotte teen who died after a police officer deployed a taser last week. Darryl Turner got into an argument with his boss at a Food Lion store in Northeast Charlotte. When police arrived at the scene, a cop used a taser on the 17-year-old [and he tragically died].

While we are still waiting on the official cause of death, focus has now turned to something called Excited Delirium. Some say this is a condition that can kill a person who has been tasered and others say it doesn't even exist.

Dr. Alan Jones works in the Emergency Room at Carolinas Medical Center.
"Excited delirium is a term used by [brainwashed] doctors to describe a state in which a patient is delirious or agitated," he said. Jones says if someone is extremely agitated with a high heart rate or high blood pressure, an electric shock from a taser could contribute to a heart attack or stroke.

Turner's mother wants to sue over the death of her son. Her attorney says he is looking into whether or not the use of force was appropriate under the circumstances.


You spelled "cause" incorrectly.

Geesh. A young apparently-healthy man, who is a inarguably 'worked up', gets tasered to death, and they're thinking of blaming the fact that he is 'worked up'? Might as well blame his shoes. It is (obviously I believe) extremely unlikely that he would have died had he not been tasered.

Read this post again: Does everyone understand this starting point?

The fact that Taser is totally unwilling to admit causing even a single death, all the while acknowledging that the taser is "not without risk", and never stating what exactly are the calculated risks of death under various circumstances, indicates their intellectual dishonesty.


UPDATE: "...witness to the incident who gives a very different account than police... The witness said Turner simply obeyed the officer's command to step back and was then hit with the Taser. He later died. ..." [LINK] - updated added 25 March 2008

Monday, March 24, 2008

Updated summary

Most of the arguments presented by Taser and the police fall to pieces with even a cursory examination.

Better than a gun? Don't be stupid. Taser deployments are about two orders of magnitude (~100:1) more frequent than the historical/accepted rate of police shootings (varies by jurisdiction). It’s not even a good lie that tasers replace the gun. Tasers replace talking; to just 24 seconds in the Vancouver Airport incident for example.

Tasers are safe? The technical details are a bit too complicated for the average person. Putting it simply, the characteristics (frequency spectrum of the waveform current) that Taser claims are safe on the older, less-common M26 model are the opposite for the newer, more-common X26 model introduced in 2003. It appears that they wanted to ensure that the newer model would ‘drop’ more criminals, but perhaps they overshot the mark a bit?

The statistics are certainly going the wrong way as the X26 model becomes more common. Taser has certainly been in the news a lot more after 2003.

Ethics and money? Taser shows some signs of being an ethically-challenged organization. A former director facing 142 years worth of criminal charges. Stock options everywhere you look (millions). Promoting 'Excited Delirium" as some sort of fantasy explanation for why taser-victims fell over and died shortly after being tasered. Friendly coroners accepting paid travel, but those coroners that make findings that are not aligned with the company position are sued. So-called “independent” (sic) director being heavily involved financially while sitting as Chair of their in-house so-called Medical Advisory Board.

The police also have major issues to address.

Their 'Scale of Force' tables appeared to be legally flawed. They appear to have confused lawful ‘force’ (noun) with illegally ‘force’ (verb) and thereby stepped over the fine line between The Rule of Law and A Police State. Example, “Do what I say or I will taser you” is illegal on several counts (Criminal Code of Canada 269.1 for example).

If someone is illegally disobeying a lawful order, then add that charge to the list and bring them before the court using reasonable force (not torture). Nobody ever gave the police the right to apply ’severe pain’ to ‘intimidate’, or to ‘coerce’ obedience (read 269.1). Even the courts cannot apply electric shock as punishment. What lunatic police officer was the first to make the assumption that he now has more power than even the courts? Idiots.

Note - The above point is in the situation of passive resistance or failure to cooperate. If the subject is violent, then the police are obviously allowed to defend themselves. So please don't bother us with that straw-man argument - that's not a point of contention. But don't think for one second that tasers are only ever used in violent cases - follow the news do you?

For more, keep reading...

Time to remind RCMP who pays their salaries...

CBC: Use of RCMP Tasers rises dramatically [LINK]
CP: Mounties zap details... [LINK]
CanWest: Eyes on RCMP for censoring Taser....reports [LINK] - added 25 March 2008
Sun: Taser censorship a stunner [LINK] - added 25 March 2008

In summary, as taser use rises, the RCMP become more embarrassed of the details (*).

(* If that's not true, feel free to provide complete information.)


UPDATE: Embarrassed RCMP examine their shoes, kick at floor, mumble something. [LINK]

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Otto Zehm

Within 30 seconds of [Officer] Thompson's arrival, the video shows him striking Zehm with a baton and Tasering him. Zehm was knocked to the floor and struck at least six times by Thompson's baton. A second officer, Steve Braun Jr., used the touch probes on his Taser to zap Zehm two additional times with 50,000 volts of electricity.

The enhanced video shows Zehm holding a 2-liter bottle of soda -- not as an offensive weapon "lunging at an officer," as police administrators initially contended but in an apparent defensive posture in front of his head to block the officer's baton, according to sources. The video also shows the "hobbled" Zehm spent most of the time on his stomach -- a contributing cause of his death, according to the medical examiner -- and not on his side as senior police administrators initially described.

As part of the FBI investigation, the videos are being reviewed by experts in police procedure and use of force, sources said. The investigation also could include a review of the records of the officers involved and how many times they each have used force on the job. Braun had used his Taser in three earlier incidents, according to department "use of force" records. One of those, in July 2004, involved a mentally ill man who was carrying methamphetamine. Before the Zehm encounter, Thompson had used his Taser seven times since Jan. 1, 2003, the records show, including once on a handcuffed, mentally ill woman.

Read the entire story here: [LINK]

It is worth noting the misinformation:
1) "lunging at an officer" versus defending himself
2) Hobbled on his stomach, versus on his side
3) Taser: "Tasers replace guns" - seven times for Thompson I guess.

This level of misinformation seems to be all too common in such cases. The same sort of thing happened with the Robert Dziekanski incident where the RCMP spokespuppet made some outlandish claims later shown to be false. You should keep this level of propaganda in mind when sifting through the news.

The insane degree of haste is another common feature (30 seconds, 24 seconds).

Police should do a lot better. It seems that at least some require a major attitude adjustment.

Does everyone understand this starting point?

Looking over some of the on-line arguments about tasers, it seems that some people are missing what should be a common sense starting point.

Let me explain it by way of an example:

A 20-something young man gets excited about some disagreement. Police are called. Police arrive. Minutes later the young man is dead. The natural question would be, "What the heck did you do to him?" The officers might reply, "Nothing. He just keeled over and died."

Such a story is improbable. It might happen once in a long while, but it would be asking us to stretch the bounds of incredulity to accept that such an event would be anything but extremely rare; and I mean rare in an absolute sense. I've seen many people in an excited rage, and I've never seen anyone keel over and die from it. Plain and simple, it's exceedingly rare.

Now add a taser deployment to the story.

"Nothing. We just tasered him and he coincidently keeled over and died of natural causes at the same time."

Does adding the taser make the original (unbelievable) story more believable, or less believable?

Like I said, this should be common sense.

And because so many people seem to lack the basics of logical thought, it makes arguments about tasers very tough sledding.

Sounds like an expensive process...

Federal taser trial gets underway Monday [LINK]

Associated Press - 21 March 2008

An Austin police officer and two former police officers will be in a federal courtroom on Monday. William "Brad" Heilman, Christopher Gray, and Joel Follmer are being sued for tasering Ramon Hernandez in September of 2005.

Hernandez claims the officers tased, punched and kicked him while he was in handcuffs. The incident was caught on video and was used in a criminal trial against the officers in 2006, but a jury acquitted Gray and Heilman. The charges against Follmer were eventually dropped. Follmer was fired following the incident. Heilman quit the force and Gray was suspended but he's since returned to the force.

This case will be tried in a civil courtroom.


I'm thinking that perhaps other approaches might be a bit cheaper in the long run. Can any jurisdiction actually afford to provide tasers to their police officers if this sort of aftershock follows? Each example of misuse ends up dragging through the legal system for years afterward. Officers being fired and suspended.

Where's the savings?

Perhaps if the training (annual 'Use of Force' refresher training, as opposed to mindless corporate brainwashing) is brought up to a reasonable standard, there's a reasonable chance that it won't be a financial fiasco. But since a reported 95% of agencies simply cut-and-paste their taser Use Policies from Taser's own propaganda, what would you expect?

The advantage of a normal gun, is that even the most thick-headed police officer perfectly understands the consequences. With a taser, his training may have misled him that it is almost perfectly harmless and almost always perfectly legal. In some cases, these assumptions are not correct.

In my opinion, Taser International Inc should be a co-defendant in these sorts of cases. These actions may be traceable to training and policy, and the training and policy are probably traceable back to Taser.


Imagine if the makers of high performance motorcycles were advertising to excitable young men that their products were perfectly safe, and perfectly legal under all circumstances. What sort of misuse would flow from such a marketing campaign? You can imagine the carnage.

This image of customers being led down the garden path somehow seems familiar...

Understatement of the week

Understatement of the week:

L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca added that he was concerned ... that deputies and supervisors may not have sufficiently explored alternatives to the stun gun. [LINK]


I've got an idea:

Perhaps the design of the taser devices could be modified so that some of the electric shock goes back through the handle so that the officers get a painful shock into their hand with each deployment. It would probably be relatively safe from the cardiac point of view since the path would just be across the one hand. Such "usage consideration feedback" might ensure that the officers fully consider the alternates before pressing the trigger. It would probably go a long way to sorting out some of the problems swirling around tasers and their all-too-frequent misuse.

How tasers save money...

Man Sues Easton Police Over Taser Incident - Easton, PA and its police department have been slapped with a million-dollar lawsuit. Elijah McNeil claims he was shot twice with Tasers and kicked in the head during an incident last October. The suit claims McNeil was sleeping at the time, and not posing a threat to the officers. He's asking for at least $1 million in damages. ... [LINK]

But it's true. Tasers do save money...

Easton, PA - Settlement negotiations have begun in a $20 million lawsuit filed by the widow of an Easton police officer who was fatally shot by a colleague. ... In March 2005, Officer Jesse Sollman was accidentally shot and killed in the Easton police station by Officer Matthew Renninger. [LINK]

I have to agree that $1M (grotesque taser abuse) is considerably less than $20M (tragic gun accident) {{ROLLS EYES}}.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The human-equivalent of a cat up a tree

An alternative to the taser - this device is called a clock.

It represents something called the passage of time.

So far as human knowledge reveals, time is (in the largest possible sense) completely unlimited. Well not quite - the Sun will eventually enter the Red Giant phase, but that's quite some time off.


Many examples of the sorts of situations where taser usage is all-too-common are the human-equivalent of a cat up a tree.

The authorities can "take action" (which is often stupid and always risky), or simply allow the passage of time to work its magic (which may be a much smarter move).

This 'wait them out' approach may clash with the testosterone-driven Type A personalities that often wear a badge, but the concept ('wait them out') should be added to the Use of Force policy ahead of most of the other options. Especially where the subject is in a situation where waiting them out would do no harm.

Considering the paperwork, risk to the victim, and risk of lawsuits that may follow taser deployment, allowing a few more hours to pass may actually be less of a time sink as well (perhaps by a huge ratio).

Friday, March 21, 2008

Medical Advisory Board Chair in conflict of interest

Dr. Mark Kroll has made a great deal of money (MILLIONS?) from Taser stock options.

At the same time, Kroll has been Chairman of Taser's in-house so-called Medical Advisory Board.

This conflict of interest isn't even subtle.

Who made the decision to arrange things so that the Chairman of Taser's in-house 'Medical Advisory Board' would be sitting on a thick stack of TASR stock options?

The outcome - entirely predictable - would be an approach that the taser devices would increasingly be designed towards maximum stun-effect (to maximize sales) with just barely enough safety margin to provide some mid-term plausible deniability (to hold off the inevitable lawsuits while the stock options are cashed-in).

With respect to Ethics 101, this example is an 800 lb gorilla.



Wiki another definition: ..."plausible deniability" can also apply to any act that leaves little or no evidence of wrongdoing or abuse. Examples of this are the use of electricity or pain-compliance holds as a means of torture or punishment, leaving little or no tangible signs that the abuse ever took place.

Taser sets or recommends taser-use policies

Attention members of SECU

Remember when Taser chief Smith testified in Ottawa that Taser does not set taser-use policies?

Compare and contrast to this.

Policy set for use: Glens Falls (NY) Police use the policy recommended by stun gun maker Taser International to guide when and how the tasers are used. Bethel would not release that policy, saying City Lawyer Ronald Newell's opinion was that the policy should not be released, for safety reasons. ... In the Police Department's use of force continuum, the taser is the first option to control someone who is fighting with police... [LINK]

Smith's answer borders on being an outright lie. What Smith did was mislead the members of SECU with an answer that hinged on the subtle gap between 'setting policy' and 'recommending policy'. This is the sort of ethical parameters that you're dealing with when you're dealing with Taser. There is a pattern.

Time to subpoena some documents from Taser, Taser's Canadian distributor, and the RCMP and other forces.

You've been misled...

The fundamental concept of the taser, going back to the purported tear-jerking fable about why the Smith brothers got involved, all rest on the lie that the taser is a replacement for the gun. Sounds good on its face.

Mirror.co.uk: Taser stun guns used by police 1,374 times (in four years)

If the UK police had been using their normal guns (pistols) at this rate, they'd have been the largest bunch of murderous thugs in British history.

Obviously the taser replaces something, but what? Common sense?

Two headlines...

Headline 1 (Mar. 20, 2008): Could Stun Guns Save Lives?

Headline 2 (Mar. 21, 2008): Teen dies after shocked by Taser by police while at work

It takes time to come to terms with the truth...

(CP) VANCOUVER -- [LINK] A coroner's inquest into the death of a Polish immigrant last October at Vancouver International Airport has been delayed. That's because the police investigation into Robert Dziekanski's death has not yet been completed. Dziekanski died when an RCMP officer used a Taser on him...


Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle): "It is an old maxim of mine that when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

But it often takes time to comes to terms with the truth...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

"...14 examples in the past five years..."

DARLINGTON, Wis. [LINK] -- Acting on a recommendation by its police commission, Darlington's City Council unanimously approved the purchase of one Taser -- an electroshock weapon meant to stun and subdue a targeted subject from a distance -- for its Police Department. It costs $1,700. In his presentation to commission members, Darlington Police Chief Jason King said more than half of Lafayette County's law enforcement agencies use the Taser technology, mainly as a deterrent. During the council meeting, King cited 14 examples in the past five years where the Taser would have been useful in resolving a conflict.

Prediction: They'll probably use their new tasers about one hundred times in total over the NEXT five years. This conservative estimate is based on the typical usage rate as compared to the probably perfectly-reasonable "14 examples" used to justify the purchase at the outset.

"Man's death possibly caused by taser"

Well, this should be fun to watch...

Chicago Tribune (LINK) used the heading "Man's death possibly caused by taser" to head their video report.

Here is the webpage clipping:



There are a couple of very interesting angles to this story.

The first is that the Chicago Tribune is big enough to tell Taser to get stuffed.

The second detail is that the autopsy will be performed by the Cook County Medical Examiner's office. There are some independently-minded folks in that office. It seems unlikely that this death will be attributed to Excited Delirium.

Pull-up a chair. This one might get interesting.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Joke of the Day - TASR

Taser News Release: "Suicidal Man Subdued with Taser"

Suicidal? Maybe he was heavily invested in TASR stock...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

ACLU-NC responds to Taser propaganda

ACLU-NC Response to Taser International Paper

... Nearly four months after the release of the ACLU-NC report, Taser International (“TI”) published a response attacking the ACLU-NC for “endangering communities” through its calls for more responsible Taser regulation. The TI report is replete with inaccuracies and fundamental misrepresentations -- including a complete mischaracterization of the ACLU-NC’s position on Tasers.

Once again, when faced with well-documented concerns about its Tasers, its marketing practices and its deployment, training and policy recommendations, Taser International has resorted to its all too familiar game of “attack the messenger, obscure the message.” Obviously hoping to confuse and distract readers, TI has produced a 41-page “response” report that scrupulously avoids the core findings of the ACLU-NC’s initial report. Rather than confront our findings head on, TI has tried to change the topic. ...

Link= ACLU-NC confronts Taser's propaganda head-on

Taser "...Use Policies supplied by..." Taser

Note the following extract from the previous post:

ACLU-NC: "...as over 95% of surveyed police departments rely on [taser] Use Policies supplied entirely by the manufacturer."

Read that again.

The implications are staggering.

If this is true, then it makes a lie of what Taser Chair Smith testified in Ottawa where he stated something along the lines of, "Taser doesn't make taser-use policy."

Well apparently they do. They not only write it, but they supply it to police forces.

Disgusting.

Regulators should investigate how many police forces have adopted Taser-written taser-use policies. If they find any, then those involved in such nonsense should be severely reprimanded (for lacking common sense).

I'm not sure about the liability implications of this, but get your money out of TASR stock as soon as possible.

ACLU-NC Report: The Stun Gun Fallacy...

ACLU of Northern California Special Report: The Stun Gun Fallacy

Schlosberg found that even as stun-gun-related deaths rise dramatically, the weapon remains largely unregulated. “We fear that in the absence of strong regulations on how police use the weapon,” said Schlosberg, “we are likely to see more unnecessary deaths.”

Taser International, the Scottsdale, Arizona-based manufacturer, has yet to concede that their product has led to a single identifiable death. The company continues to downplay safety concerns and bills its product as “non-lethal.” Taser’s reluctance to acknowledge potential dangers is particularly disturbing as over 95% of surveyed police departments rely on use policies supplied entirely by the manufacturer.

The ACLU-NC has been working to reform Taser policies and issued the following recommendations:

* Pass legislation that allows Tasers to be used solely as an alternative to deadly force.
* Adopt stricter policies that strictly regulate the number and duration of Taser shocks. Policies should protect vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people under the influence of drugs.
* Bring all training materials in line with new information and retrain all officers who have completed the Taser International training.

The ACLU-NC "Stun Gun" report was distributed to every police and sheriff’s department in Northern and Central California with over 25 sworn officers; to smaller departments known to use Tasers; and to city councils and supervisors in key areas. "The Stun Gun Fallacy" was widely read, and it has succeeded in effecting policy changes in jurisdictions throughout the region. Though many Taser regulations remain flawed, several police departments have recently changed their Taser regulations. The new guidelines represent a step in the right direction.


Link= The Stun Gun Fallacy: How the Lack of Taser Regulation Endangers Lives

(Follow the link in the second paragraph on the above introduction page to get to the download page.)

Paper: Taser-Induced Myocardial Capture

Several posts back I'd mentioned that medical researchers had pulled some very interesting data out of the 'black box' recorder contained within a pacemaker.

Here is the first part of the paper.


Taser-Induced Rapid Ventricular Myocardial Capture Demonstrated by Pacemaker Intracardiac Electrograms

MICHAEL CAO, M.D., JEROLD S. SHINBANE, M.D., JEFFREY M. GILLBERG, M.S.∗ and LESLIE A. SAXON, M.D.

From the Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California; and ∗Medtronic Inc., Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Taser-Induced Myocardial Capture

Introduction: A Taser weapon is designed to incapacitate violent individuals by causing temporary neuromuscular paralysis due to current application. We report the first case of a Taser application in a person with a dual-chamber pacemaker demonstrating evidence of Taser-induced myocardial capture.

Methods and Results: Device interrogation was performed in a 53-year-old man with a dual-chamber pacemaker who had received a Taser shot consisting of two barbs delivered simultaneously. Assessment of pacemaker function after Taser application demonstrated normal sensing, pacing thresholds, and lead impedances. Stored event data revealed two high ventricular rate episodes corresponding to the exact time of the Taser application.

Conclusions: This report describes the first human case of ventricular myocardial capture at a rapid rate resulting from a Taser application. This raises the issue as to whether conducted energy devices can cause primary myocardial capture or capture only in association with cardiac devices providing a preferential pathway of conduction to the myocardium.


Let's review:

1) Not a swine model, but an actual human.
2) Data appears to offer no escape.
3) The only thing left is if the pacemaker wiring contributed to the issue (*).

(* The same issue that Taser previously pretended to not understand.)

Here are some additional extracts from the paper:

Kornblum et al. performed autopsies in 16 individual deaths associated with Taser applications. (ref 12) They identified one directly attributable to Taser application. (ref 12) In an editorial, Allen, a medical examiner involved with several of the death investigations, commented that up to nine causes of death were associated with Taser. (ref 13)

Refs:
...
12. Kornblum RN, Reddy SK: Effects of the Taser in fatalities involving police confrontation. J Forensic Sci 1991;36:434-438.
13. Allen TB: Discussion of effects of the Taser in fatalities involving police confrontation. J Forensic Sci 1992;37:956-958.
...

Taser idiot spokespuppet 'Dave' is still going...

Regarding the very clear (ultra-clear) case where the Brattleboro officers used a taser to literally torture the two protesters that had chained themselves to a barrel, semi-professional Taser spokespuppet 'Dave' posted the following gem:

"The Officers should have placed the Taser where the sun don't shine and lit the hippies up for an extended period." Dave (David E. Zuskin), Poquoson, VA

Keep in mind that this case of taser abuse couldn't be more clear. Two peaceful protesters chained themselves to a barrel of sand. Officers decided to use the taser to literally torture the protesters until they released themselves.

Correct procedures, i.e. the procedures that wouldn't get the officers in SERIOUS trouble, are as follows:

1) Call for chain cutters.
2) Monitor the protesters to make sure they don't, ah never mind, they've chained themselves down to a barrel of sand...
3) When the chain cutters arrive, cut the chains and take the protesters into custody.

If at any time the protesters switch from passive resistance to any form of aggression, then the police may of course use self-defense and reasonable force. That seems very unlikely to happen if the protesters keep their wits about them.

Those that don't understand these basics of law should keep their trap shut. Everyone has more to fear in the long run from the jackboot of police abuse than from a couple of peaceful protesters chained to a barrel.

Seriously folks - read history.

These protesters WILL eventually be given a check. No question. They might have to go to a higher court, but they will win in the end. Oh, not to say that they won't be convicted of trespassing, but the act of torture by the police is a much more serious offense.

But they will get a settlement. Exactly like the $40,000 given to the Utah speeder. Seriously. this case is MUCH more clear. You can't claim that these two protesters represented a threat, after all they were chained to a barrel.

Tasers cause MORE PROBLEMS than they supposedly solve.

Dave - you're an idiot.

TASR closes under $10 (again)

I can think of better places to invest your money. Do you really think that this stock, with all the risks, will outperform the average over the next few years? Really? Think so? LOL.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Seems pretty clear to me...

Link= Brattleboro officers torture protesters

"...At 7 a.m. on July 24, police visited the site to find two remaining protesters, Crowell and Kilmurray, had chained themselves to a barrel full of sand, which is meant to stymie law enforcement efforts to remove protesters. The officers informed Crowell and Kilmurray if they refused to leave the property, they would be stunned with Tasers. When the pair refused to comply with the police order, they were stunned until they agreed to unlock themselves..."

Well, here we go. A crystal-clear example of what is now called "torture". For those that haven't been following along, please review the right-hand column where it is all explained in great detail.

Perhaps these officers didn't get the memo. Perhaps the taser training they received was flawed (likely). Perhaps their employer didn't provide proper guidance. Perhaps they weren't clever enough to bring along a set of chain cutters. Maybe their radios weren't working so they couldn't call for a set of chain cutters.

But there's no assurance that the local court will even get this one right. It might have to go all the way to the US Supreme Court.

I hope that these two protesters don't cave-in and settle for a piddling settlement. They should hold-out for an extreme amount or a ruling, not for the money but to make the point.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Is it a small problem, or a big problem?

Don't miss the taser's Curious Temporal Asymmetry. [LINK]


I've been witness to thousands of arguments over the years. One very common cause of disagreements is people having the same data point, but different unspoken reference points. Unless someone intervenes to make sure that they understand that they're arguing about the reference points, not the data point, then they will never be able to see each other's point of view.

For example (and "7%" is just an example) if something bad is happening at a rate of 7% then some people might think that 7% is a fairly low rate and it isn't too much to panic about. These people are using the unspoken reference point of 100%. To them, they look at 7% along the green line in the sketch below. In other words, 'We could be abusing everyone, so 7% isn't too bad.'

Other people might look at the same data point, 7%, and they may be very upset about such a high rate. They're using the unspoken reference point of 0%. They're looking at 7% along the red line in the sketch below. In other words, 'Any abuse is unacceptable.'


So, when it comes to such issues as the following:
  1. Taser abuse and misuse
  2. Risks not clearly identified and explicitly defined
  3. Abuse of human rights
  4. Unethical behaviour by officers
  5. Lack of clarity by weapons manufacturers
  6. Errors in training - facts or philosophy or approach
...Where do you set your reference point?

If someone is taking the opposite argument, then ask them point blank: Are you comparing this level of abuse to some imagined world where it might be 100% abuse? Or are you comparing this level of abuse to the standard which is ZERO TOLERANCE as you should be?

This is a very common axis of disagreement. And sneaky 'master-debaters' use this technique all the time to say one thing, and then claim the opposite point via subtly-faulty logic.

Now that it is explicit, be bamboozled no more!

Swine of all sorts - including the 2-legged variety

Millionaire / Taser-Director Kroll basically states that swine models are a poor replacement for human studies. This is in the context of pigs (even large pigs) having serious cardiac reactions to X26 taser shocks (ventricle fibrillation, even death). Reproducible issues (several studies). There seems to be no direct arument from Kroll/Taser on this point. So they've retreating to the position that pigs are "easy to fibrillate" (flying in the face of measures taken by independent researchers to compensate for the known deltas).

Taser Chair Smith claimed that 'the taser' (sic) has a 15-to-1 safety margin. M26 model? X26 model?

So... combine these two positions:

Are pigs significantly (15-to-1) easier to fibrillate than humans? Or more like 2-to-1, or maybe 3 to-1 easier?

The only way these two Taser positions would make any sense would be if swine were at least something like twenty times easier to fibrillate (significantly more than the supposed human safety margin of 15-to-1). That I doubt very much.

So, Safety Margin? Hello?

Oh HELLO? SAFETY MARGIN?

Come out come out wherever you are!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

French Taser vendor slapped, ordered to pay Amnesty €3000

...A Paris court ordered SMP Technologies, which supplies the French police, to pay legal fees and 3,000 euros ($4,600) in fines to Amnesty for bringing an unwarranted suit against it over a paper the group published denouncing the Taser. ...

Link= French Taser seller order to pay Amnesty €3000

I told you that 2008 would be the year the crap hits the fan for Taser.

“It would be great to get as many copies back as we could.”

This story has so many angles that it can make your head spin just trying to think of where to begin...

2004 October 23: Kamloops RCMP tasered a disabled man (John Glen Dempsey, age 45) while he was handcuffed, face down on the floor, with another police officer kneeling on his back.

How's it sound so far?

A video of the event was released to the media, and broadcast.

But now they want the video back.

Link= City law firm wants Taser videos returned

Of course the video is on YouTube (not just once either). It wouldn't be fair to link to it, but all you'd have to do is search YouTube for the blatantly-obvious keywords. By the way - I have nothing to do with the video being on YouTube.

I've seen the video. The tasering was completely unnecessary and a clear violation of 'everything' (laws, rights, common sense, human dignity, etc.).

I wonder if police stations should have walls made of glass? Or perhaps their CCTV streams should be streamed to the Internet? Something has to be done to rein-in such disgusting taser abuse.

If the police themselves are going to be bringing the administration of justice into disrepute, then the whole country is headed to hell in a hand-basket. The country requires police forces that are respected. Any officers or senior staff that work against maintaining this essential reputation, should be severely disciplined. This should be considered to be one-thousand times more important than protecting one's own.

Isn't this common sense?

Delaware - Unauthorized 'Taser' use to be a felony

Link= Stun-gun bill stalls in committee

Dover, Delaware -- Legislation to make the unauthorized use of a Taser or similar electronic stun guns a felony was tabled by a House committee today for a technical correction. ... The legislation would not prohibit the use of a stun gun for self-defense. It also would not affect the use of the devices by law enforcement and security officers in the performance of their duties.

The above description is a bit vague when it comes to Taser misuse and abuse by officers. It would be nice if the legislation was clarified so that such misuse and abuse by officers, which would not rationally be described as a "duty", would also be included as an explicit felony.

In case you think that such abuse would never happen, the Utah speeder (Jared Massey) that was tasered for no apparent reason by a Utah Highway Patrol trooper (Jon Gardner) is getting a cheque for $40,000.

Link= $40,000, and they got off cheap...

Let's start a new rule - no one settles for less than six figures. Okay?

Next Canadian government comments on present

Link= Liberals Demand Immediate Action on Taser Use Reforms

It is a virtual certainty that the next government in Canada will be formed by the Liberal Party. Probably a minority government.

They are calling for the same thing as I am:

"The Minister of Public Safety must take action now, ...and implement Mr. Kennedy’s recommendations to rein in these disturbing patterns." Mr. Dosanjh.

Exactly.

Just 'cause and just effect

Link= Taser Shares Rise on Stupid Comment

The headline writer, and perhaps the analyst too, should pick up a copy of 'The Black Swan', by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

A good investment?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Halifax newspaper editorial

This one is worth quoting in its entirety.

The Chronicle Herald: Sun. Mar 9 - 4:46 AM

POLICE in Nova Scotia should keep Tasers holstered until a provincial review of the potent weapons is completed and any recommendations acted upon.

That’s been our stance on Tasers since the review was announced last fall, when a number of Taser-related deaths in Canada, including in Nova Scotia, garnered headlines from coast to coast. We see no reason to change that position now that the initial findings of that review have been made public. Simply put, more studies are needed on how Tasers can impact the human body, and more consistency – and restraint – is necessary in police training and rules of engagement using the stun guns.

The findings of the provincial review, released last week, only reinforce our belief that government should implement a temporary moratorium on police use of Tasers. The Justice Department study found widely inconsistent rules for their use, along with uneven training programs. (The weapons can deliver thousands of volts of electricity, incapacitating a subject.)

The review found that police officers in various parts of the province are following different guidelines on the number of times a Taser should be used against an individual, whether firing a Taser at a subject requires prior approval from a supervisor and even about the types of warnings to be issued to someone who may be about to be Tasered.

In the wake of a disturbing number of deaths in Canada in recent years – as well as in other countries – after individuals were Tasered by police, a number of troubling questions remain unanswered. Despite claims by Taser proponents the weapons are safe, scientists and doctors have raised concerns about possible links between Tasers and potential heart and respiration problems, mental health and an individual’s state of exhaustion or agitation in confrontations with authorities. Certainly, too many people have ended up dying after incidents in which they were Tasered.

The public has also been concerned about what seems to be inappropriate use of Tasers in certain situations, such as when a Dartmouth teenage girl was Tasered by police officers in her own bedroom in February, 2007. In that regard, the provincial review’s finding that rules for deploying Tasers in Nova Scotia are all over the map is not reassuring. Critics are also worried Tasers are being used in Halifax at a rate far greater than in Toronto.

Public confidence in police use of Tasers has been shaken by deaths that have occurred, as well as when and how the weapons are used. Tasers should not be used until that confidence is restored.


Link= Chronicle Herald - More doubts on Taser use

I would add one more thing. Such reviews are often derailed by too much Taser influence. Taser would probably want to provide input. They'll thump down huge volumes of propaganda and few people would have time to do anything but weigh it. The police, often brainwashed by Taser training, will obviously be there. These groups all have vested interest in the outcome. Many of the so-called "experts" will have been bought and paid-for by Taser.

This presents a very difficult dilemma. How do you reach a reasonable conclusion in the face of such relationships between the players in the entire industry?
  1. Make sure that equal time is given to the critics.
  2. Discount all testimony given by those with a vested interest. Many of the proponents of tasers have vested interests. Most of the critics have no such interests.
  3. Pay special attention to those studies that HAVE found problems.
  4. Use basic logic: If there are a dozen studies that FAILED to find a problem and one study that DID find a problem, then there's probably a problem. That's basic logic: You can't prove a negative.
  5. Ask difficult questions. With respect, the Commons Committee tossed a lot of softball questions at Taser chief Smith.

"You won't find them..." Really? UPDATE

A few posts back I mentioned the article by Capt. Greg Meyer (ret.) - SPONSORED BY TASER.

He stated that "...you won't find..." any studies critical of taser safety.

So I sent him a sample list of five such studies. The list was intended to be just a simple counter-example with four spares. There are many more such studies.

So Capt. was WRONG. He didn't do his research. He claims to have a journalism degree, but he merely prints propaganda from Taser. He apparently wasn't even aware of the ever-growing science on the other side of the issue. Not very good journalism. Seriously.

So, prompted by my e-mail, Capt apparently called up his apparently-good-friend, a certain millionaire Director of Taser: Dr. Mark Kroll, and updated his article with a Kroll-quote (i.e. rubbish) without backing down. Kroll basically states that swine models are a poor replacement for human studies.

Okay humanoid-with-a-bowtie; stop talking and open your shirt.

I challenge Dr. Millionaire Kroll to allow an experiment to be conducted upon his person.

An X26 taser directly across the chest (with barbs carefully placed for worst case highest risk) and tasered repeatedly until the batteries run out (about 200 five-second shocks). This should be about 16 minutes duration, not including the short gaps between each trigger press. This shouldn't take any more than about half an hour.

According to Dr. Kroll's theories, he will be perfectly fine. No risk of any cardiac impact.

And I'd like to see the test supervised by Ruggieri to ensure that Taser doesn't pull any funny business.

So - just do it. Put up or shut up.

RCMP in Nova Scotia regularly taser unarmed drunks

Canadian Press:

HALIFAX -- In the wake of recent publicity about police use of tasers in Nova Scotia, new statistics show RCMP officers in the province drew those weapons 132 times between 2005 and 2007. RCMP Sgt. Mark Gallagher said the figures show that in 85% of those cases, police were dealing with a person who was either drunk or high on drugs.

In 60% of cases, the person was unarmed.

In previous generations, the nightly rounding up of the drunks was a rather-friendly ritual. Now they need to taser unarmed drunks? Good grief!

Keep in mind that the largest cities in NS have their own police forces. So these RCMP statistics cover perhaps half the population, and probably less than half the drunks and druggies.

Police say they use Tasers on non-violent people

Police say they use Tasers on non-violent people

Link= Vancouver Sun

"There is debate over whether the Taser should be used to get non-violent suspects to comply with police orders."

Debate? Read the Criminal Code of Canada 269.1 and review the discussion about same in previous posts. There's nothing left to debate.

Educate yes, debate no.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Charming - oh so charming...

Presented without comment...

Link= National Post

Civilian taser provides 90- [30-?] second mode...

Oh - my - god...

"...a key function of the civilian Taser that differs from the police version: When the trigger is pressed three times, the civilian model pumps out current for 90 seconds. That enables the user to place the unit on the ground and leave the area, while the target remains temporarily incapacitated." (link)

With all the news about how long-duration taserings (with police models) can be very dangerous, doesn't this 90-second option seem to be insane? The only possible factor might be that the civilian model has a much weaker waveform and that this would increase the safety margin.

Further investigation required...

[Update: Other sources say it is a 30-second mode, not 90-second.]

Interesting case...

Link= RICKEY A. BEAVER v. CITY OF FEDERAL WAY

The judgment has a few interesting tidbits:

1) Judge wrote: The analysis changes, however, with the arrival of Officer Castro. At this point, there were two officers to control the situation. [see 41]

The judge found that the subsequent taserings were illegal. Compare this to the news that the average number of police present at taser incidents in Montreal is SIX. That would seem, by this judge's reasoning, that most taserings in Montreal would be illegal (based on the numbers).

2) Judge wrote: Officer Myers ("expert witness" for the defense) has a business relationship with Taser International. He is sent by Taser International on trips around the world to promote the use of Tasers and instruct police departments on their use. He also has an ownership interest in a small consulting group that Taser International contracts with for pre-release versions of some of its equipment. He has been named a "Senior Master Instructor Armorer" by Taser International. [see 65]

File this sort of relationship under 'Ethically-challenged' (with respect to presenting ones self as an expert witness).

Monday, March 3, 2008

"You won't find them..." Really?

"Why don't you ask to see the 'several reliable studies' that supposedly indicate that the Taser is dangerous? You won't find them..." Capt. Greg Meyer (ret.)

Capt. That gross factual error gets you an automatic 'F' grade.

There are many such studies, but you won't find them highlighted in your brainwashing propaganda from Taser. I'm not going to list them all, but it only requires one to prove you wrong. Here are several:

1) 'Acute Effects of TASER X26 Discharges in a Swine Model', Dennis et al.
2) 'TASER X26 Discharges in Swine Produce Potentially Fatal Ventricular Arrhythmias', Walter et al.
3) 'TASER® X26 discharges in swine: Cardiac rhythm capture is dependent on discharge vector', Valentino et al
4) 'Duration of Discharge of Neuromuscular Incapacitating Device and Inappropriate Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator Detections', Calton et al
5) 'Cardiac Electrophysiological Consequences of Neuromuscular Incapacitating Device Discharges', Nanthakumar et al

This is by no means an exhaustive list. And the list of such studies will only increase now that the Taser monopoly on taser studies has been broken.

And, as I've already pointed out many times, the X26 taser is more dangerous than the older models.

Meyer: "Tasers have been in police use for 30 years."

The most dangerous taser, the X26, was introduced in 2003. Models with shooting barbs that tend to be aimed across the chest are also fairly new (1999?). Your statements are propaganda and very misleading.

PS: Capt's column is "Sponsored by Taser" which explains the very high level of crapola.

Medical Researchers unaware of rate of misuse

Here is an extract from a letter to the editor where the medical researchers appear to have been bamboozled by Taser propaganda.

"...although our data show that rapid myocardial capture can occur with an implanted device, this observation should be viewed in the context of the use of the taser device that provides an alternative to the use of lethal force in law enforcement situations."

I guess these doctors are unaware of the many examples of taser abuse. They should know that the taser more often replaces talking than replaces lethal force.

Corrected version (what they should have written):

"...our data show that rapid myocardial capture can occur with an implanted device. When this observation is combined with the apparent excessively high rate of taser use (and/or misuse), it raises important societal questions about the unexpected risks and questionable real-world cost-benefit ratio of the taser in law enforcement situations."

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The inertia of illogic

The Modesto Bee - ...A forensic pathologist concluded that Abston's death was caused by cardiac arrhythmia from an enlarged heart, compounded by excited delirium with meth intoxication... "I don't know of any proven history where a Taser has been the proximate cause of death," Merced Police Chief Russ Thomas said. ...Abston previously had heart surgery and had an internal heart defibrillator. ...

Observations:

1) I find it interesting that they'll include every possible contributing factor EXCEPT the taser. They've even included 'excited delirium' which isn't even real science by any reasonable standard. It seems illogical to exclude one proximate factor while including all the others. Why would this be?

2) It has already been pointed out that an internal defibrillator, specifically the wiring that leads from the device to the heart, may conduct the taser pulse directly to the heart' pacemaker center. Taser spokes-puppets pretend not to understand this point. There's nothing controversial about this proposal; that conductive wires conduct. Why doesn't the report make the connection? They mention the device for one propaganda purpose, but fail to include the other possible connection.

[Update: Medical researchers have pulled some very interesting data out of the 'black box' recorder contained within a pacemaker [correction]. More later...]

3) The statement by Chief Thomas is nonsense to highest possible degree. At least two coroners are presently being sued for exactly that conclusion. Thomas is (at best) ill-informed; at worst he's been severely brainwashed by Taser.

It is entirely possible that their findings are generally correct, but the illogic used along the way stinks. It has that disgusting whiff of Taser propaganda and influence about it.

Link= Modesto Bee - Taser shot ... death of driver

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Insider sell-off continues...

On 14 Feb 2008, Taser el-Presidento Tom Smith sold 100,000 shares at $11.88, pocketing $1.19 million. He still has 621,081 shares.

On 22 Feb 2008, Taser Director Bruce Culver sold 15,000 shares at $11.52, pocketing $172,800. He still has a million shares.