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.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Some recent key posts...

It is time to review some of the more important recent posts:


Trend... is there a problem? [LINK]

Drug addicts - get past the image, use logic [LINK]

Recommending policy - what's the truth ???? [LINK]

Taser X26 specs again... [LINK] and [LINK] and [LINK]

151 mA RMS - Is that info coming or going ? [LINK]

Which is more dangerous: M26 or X26? [LINK]

Safety Margin: "15-to-1" and all that... [LINK]

A call for CSA to get involved [LINK]

Very Interesting... But Stupid !

(To be clear, the stupid part is towards the bottom...)

Well well well... look what I found.

Let's start at the beginning: When Patti Gillman was testifying at SECU (subject of my immediately-previous post [LINK]), she mentioned this blog and recommended it to the members of SECU. [thanks Patti!]

Unfortunately, the dash in my domain name (Excited-Delirium.com) is silent when spoken, and so in the original SECU transcript [LINK] the URL came out as exciteddelirium.com [no dash].

Note: I've already sent in a request to the Clerk of the SECU Committee asking if he could please correct or clarify the website address in the Evidence.

Out of curiosity, I decided to check out the URL-without-the-dash and see where it leads.

Well, guess what...

It redirects to (ahem): "The Institute for the Prevention of In-Custody Deaths".

So who the heck are they?

Their mission statement is as follows:

The Institute for the Prevention of In-Custody Deaths, Inc. (IPICD) is a clearinghouse, resource center, and training provider dedicated to providing interested parties with objective, timely, accurate, qualitative, and quantitative information, training, and operational guidance for the prevention and management of sudden- and in-custody deaths.

Cough cough gag cough - Sorry. Excuse me.

According to the IPICD Sponsors page, the only two sponsors are:
1) US Armor Corporation, and
2) LAAW International, Inc.

Taser is not listed as a sponsor.

But it is not exactly very subtle for someone (?) to register the domain name exciteddelirium.com [no dash], and redirect it to the IPICD home page.

So, who did it?

Is there any connection from exciteddelirium.com [no dash] to Taser? Any at all?

The website registration for exciteddelirium.com [no dash] (as found on Whois.net [LINK]) extracts are as follows:

domain: exciteddelirium.com [no dash]
registrant-firstname: Michael
registrant-lastname: Brave
registrant-organization: LAAW International, Inc.

"...Michael Brave..."?? Oh, now that name sounds familiar.

Do you remember Mr. Alphabet Soup from a previous post? [LINK]

"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."

(Here it is...)

So in summary: The current (or former?) National Litigation Counsel for Taser International, Inc. has apparently registered the domain name exciteddelirium.com [no dash] and redirected it to point to IPICD.


Here's the issue:

It would have been perfectly normal if IPICD had registered an alternate domain name (such as exciteddelirium.com) and linked it to their own IPICD home page if they wished to do so. That's S.O.P. for webpage owners. Nothing abnormal about that. But that's not what happened.

When a 'sponsor' (LAAW/Michael Brave/Taser's Litigator) registers a domain name representing a controversial medical theory being promoted by Taser, and links it to someone else's independent (?) homepage, that's very strange.

Seems a bit clumsy. Cue the gently-indignant press release from IPICD requesting that LAAW remove the unauthorized link from exciteddelirum.com [no dash] to their IPICD home page.

Editorial note: You couldn't even make this stuff up.

[Updated several times: 29 April 2008]

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

SECU Evidence - a 'Must Read'

As reported on Truth ... Not Tasers [LINK]:

On April 16, 2008, Zofia Cisowski (mother of Robert Dziekanski [Wiki LINK]) and her lawyer Mr. Walter Kosteckyj, as well as Riki Bagnell and Patti Gillman (mother and sister of Robert Bagnell [LINK]), attended the meeting of the House of Commons Committee on Public Safety and National Security (SECU). Their testimony has been added to the SECU website as evidence.

I would consider this testimony to be a MUST READ for anyone interested in the topic of tasers and their use and misuse in Canada. Follow the link when you have about 30 minutes available to read it.

SECU Evidence: [LINK]

Are they spinners?

Follow the link and you can decide.

The Motley Fool (July 31, 2006) - Is Taser Telling the Truth? [LINK]

Although this observation is from nearly two years ago, the management team hasn't changed much since then. It's basically the same crowd with the same decision-making skills.

Monday, April 28, 2008

It is certainly more 'democratic'...

It used to be that if you were an 'average Joe' and non-violent towards the police, then the chances of them killing you was essentially zero. On the other hand, if you were actually being violent towards the police, then they might shoot you. It always seemed to be a perfectly reasonable line-in-the-sand. Since most people are basically non-violent, the average citizen had about as much chance of being killed by the police as being hit by an asteroid. Ah, the good old days.

Now, it's much more democratic. Everyone, from back-talking speeders, to people that aren't quite quick enough to comply with often-confusing commands, to people in medical distress, to zoned-out drug addicts, to drunks, to the suicidal, and - yes - even to murderous thugs violently attacking the police, EVERYONE. It now seems that we all have a non-zero risk of death during our run-ins with the law - no matter how minor those run-ins might be.

Thanks Taser. Yeah, thanks a lot.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Why is this blog called "Excited-Delirium" ??

I've just added an explanation in the right hand column. It's presently the 3rd item from the top in the right hand column. I think it's worth a read.

Perhaps you'll recognize the strategy as being in the style of The Art of War by Sun Tzu [LINK].

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Safety Margin: "15-to-1" and all that...

Taser claims that the safety margin for 'the taser' is "15-to-1". And that this means that the risk is exceedingly, extremely, amazingly low.

First of all, anyone that uses the all-in-one phrase 'the taser' when discussing safety issues with the M26 and X26 tasers should be forced to sit in the corner for five minutes. I've seen plenty of technical information that indicates that the M26 and X26 tasers would probably have different safety margins. The 2003-era X26 taser's waveform has characteristics (low frequency, high duty cycle) that are the exact opposite of what Taser claimed was safe on the older 1999-era M26 (high frequency, low duty cycle). Very strange that.


So where does the purported "15-to-1" safety margin come from?

The only numbers I recall seeing that are consistently in a 15-to-1 ratio are Taser's claimed "average" current of around 2 mA (1.9 mA or 2.1 mA) for the M26 and X26 tasers as compared to the safety limit of IEC 479-1 at 30 mA. 30 mA to 2 mA equals 15-to-1.

So, let's ignore the fact that the M26 taser is also rated at 162 mA RMS and that the X26 taser is also rated at 151 mA RMS. We'll ignore the RMS question for now. And not bother asking why the RMS value was deleted from later spec sheets.

We'll also ignore those pesky skeptics that have measured output currents 84.5 times higher than the "average" current specified by Taser.

And we'll ignore for the time being those skeptics that don't accept the anticipated circuit resistance presented by the victim as assumed by Taser.

We'll also ignore the fact that the 'applicable safety standard' probably isn't applicable because it was designed to protect lives in the event of an accidental electrocution, and there may be other issues with using it to set limits for intentional application of electric current. Especially when used against people that (for example) failed to pay their transit fare.

Even accepting all this, what about the 30 mA?

The 30 mA limit covers 95% of the (normal) population. The reaction of the lowest 5% of the population is undefined. It may be reasonable to assume a Bell Curve response tailing off towards lower and lower currents. So, by the normal application of high school statistics, there will be a significant fraction (5%) of the normal population where the purported 15-to-1 safety margin does not exist.

This issue exists even after giving Taser the benefit of the doubt on all the issues mentioned above and using their numbers.


Also, we are constantly hearing that perhaps the victim died because they were on drugs, or they were drunk. There's an implication (not explicitly stated) that perhaps these people brought their fate upon themselves. That somehow maybe the tasering that triggered some abnormal reaction isn't really to blame...

The argument gets a bit fuzzy at this point because Taser knows exactly where it leads:

If drunks and drug addicts make up much of the population that is likely to be tasered, then the taser should have been designed for this population. Some might even claim that it would be criminal negligence to design a device obviously going to be used on drunks and drug addicts and not take into account any differences in that population's sensitivity if such differences exist.

At this point, you'll see a man wearing a bowtie riding a bicycle backwards at a very high rate of knots. Taser will have nothing to do with the argument that drunks and drug addicts are more susceptible. But their fanboys keep implying it, which is fine for Taser.

Perhaps that's why it is such a "good idea" to taser fare-cheats on the transit system. At least you'll increase the number of people being tasered that are not drunk nor on drugs. Yeah, good idea - taser some normal citizens going about their business to wash the statistics towards a more-normal population mixture. Get some truant children in there too. Increase the denominator to flatten out the overall statistics a bit. Maybe it would be a good idea to taser some healthy police officers during their taser training for a further dilution of the statistics away from the real world applications.


"15-to-1" safety margin does not constitute a proper safety analysis.

A proper safety analysis can be distinguished by the final result which is the numerical value of the estimated death rate. And the calculated result should approximately match the actual field results.


NASA's Space Shuttle program went through a similar circumstance in the 1980s. The top NASA management thought that the risk of a Space Shuttle accident on any mission was about 10,000-to-1. But some NASA engineers thought it was more like 100-to-1. But NASA management went with the preposterous 10,000-to-1 value. So they started to put teachers into the space program because they thought it was so safe. After Challenger exploded (killing a teacher), they had to go back and not only fix the design, but also admit that the risk was never anywhere near 10,000-to-1. Even now, they all know the risk is more like 100-to-1. Everyone goes in with their eyes open.

Sounds like a familiar story-in-progress, doesn't it?

$1.2 million here, $1.19 million there

First quarter 2008
Net income: $1.2 million, or 2 cents per diluted share.

First quarter 2008
Insider trading activities reported:
03/14/08 CULVER BRUCE R Sold 35,000 shares @ $10.12 = $354,200.00
02/22/08 CULVER BRUCE R Sold 15,000 shares @ $11.52 = $172,800.00
02/14/08 SMITH THOMAS P Sold 100,000 shares @ $11.88 = $1.19 million

Not that there's anything wrong with that. Just a meaningless coincidence, nothing more. Nothing to see - now move along.

CEO Smith agrees with Excited-Delirium.com

The Arizona Republic - CEO Rick Smith also provided an update on the company's product-liability lawsuit track record. ... He said, "...it is likely the company will lose a case at some point in the future." [LINK]

On this point we can agree.

Usage creep - or just plain creepy usage?

West Memphis, AK (AP) - ...Police used a stun gun to subdue Dewayne Chatt during a scuffle Wednesday night as officers were trying to arrest him for loitering. ... Chatt was pronounced dead in his jail cell at 2:14 a.m. [Thursday morning] ...West Memphis police say it is standard procedure to use a stun gun when a suspect fails to comply with a command. [LINK]

Did the local authorities remember to give the victim medical attention between tasering him on Wednesday night and finding him dead in his jail cell very early the next morning? Or did they just toss him in the jail cell after tasering him?

Does failure to comply justify application of a measure that seems to be occasionally lethal? Is this standard policy based on an assumed level of safety as describe by the manufacturer? What is the risk (numerically)? Is this policy recommended by Taser? Do you still trust them? Did they tell you 2mA "average"? Did they ever mention 151 mA RMS?

Was this application of the taser better than a gun? Did it save a life? Would they have simply shot him with a gun for loitering or failure to comply if it weren't for the "life-saving" taser?

Something I've noticed...

I've seen a few tasering videos recently, and there is a common thread on many of them.

Typically, even while the person (victim, possible criminal, or whatever) is being tasered, the police officer(s) are very excited; almost delirious. It gives the impression of them being extremely unprofessional.

The officers often continue to yell commands, even as the person being tasered squirms on the ground. I doubt that the person being tasered can even hear them. And even if they can, they're not exactly in a position to obey. This constant yelling-while-tasering accomplishes nothing except perhaps to build frustration on both sides.

The taserer is thinking to himself, "Why isn't he obeying me? I'm tasering him and he still won't obey. What an asshole."

The taseree is probably thinking, "How the hell do I put my arms behind my head when he's tasering me? What an asshole."

So the yelling probably leads to more aggression on both sides, and thus to multiple taserings (far too common), and thus increased risk.

So, if you're tasering someone, then why not stop all the foolish yelling?

Friday, April 25, 2008

"In critical condition..." - a tragic update...

I had previously posted [LINK] about the young man (Kevin Piskura) that was left in critical condition after being tasered. Unfortunately he has died.


HAMILTON, Ohio (AP) - Authorities investigating the death of a man who was subdued with a stun gun outside a bar in Oxford say it will be several days before they know what caused his death. An officer used a Taser device on 24-year-old Kevin Piskura of Chicago early last Saturday. Piskura began to have trouble breathing and was taken to University Hospital in Cincinnati, where he died yesterday. The Butler County sheriff is in charge of the investigation. The Hamilton County coroner's office will be doing the autopsy. Spokesmen for both offices have declined comment. [LINK]


Mr. Piskura was in critical condition from pretty much the exact time that he was tasered, until he died about five days later.

How many examples do we need?

The 'Use of Force' Continuum - OBSOLETE

I want to review this topic again because it is an important part of the whole solution to the all-too-common taser abuse issue.

The newer concept of Objective Reasonableness (replacing the ill-conceived concept of a single Use of Force Scale or continuum) was discuss here: [LINK]

The same basic issue (use of force) has been discussed on this blog since the very beginning (see right hand column). It's a key point. Even I (an average citizen) could see the several problems with the way the Use of Force has evolved since the 1960's.

The failure to demarcate between those that are normal citizens that might be failing to comply with police instructions quick enough (*), and those that step over the clear line to becoming violent with police (it's a very clear line, it really is...) is a criminal omission and has often led directly to criminal behaviour (CC 269.1) by the police.

(* Instructions that are often yelled, incoherent, contradictory, and impossible to obey. For example: "Hands Up! Keep them up. Now get down on the floor! BUT KEEP YOUR HANDS UP!" What? Are we all gymnasts now? Use our nose to break our forward face-plant?)

So, some questions:

1) What moronic raving idiot first created the concept of the Use of Force Scale or continuum?
2) Can we find them? Can we track them down?
3) When we find them, is there any way that they could be hanged for treason?

Failing that, can we at least ensure that our representatives familiarize themselves with the in-and-outs of this issue and prepare themselves for a quick-draw response next time someone sits before the SECU committee and mouths the words "our policy is represented by the Use of Force Scale...."

SECU's response should be the verbal equivalent of: BLAM!

This obsolete Use of Force Scale or continuum is going to have to be surgically removed from every officer in the land. In other words, someone is going to have to issue a memo. A memo with "Important" written across the top in bold letters.


Honestly - this is a clear-cut example of why the police need (require) more civilian oversight.

Prediction...

News - Taser CEO Smith invited investors to attend Taser’s annual shareholder meeting on May 28 at the company’s headquarters in Scottsdale, AZ.

After today's -20% stock tank, I predict that someone is going to get tasered (that would be fun to see). So maybe I'll buy a share and attend... incognito. These days you can't even get into a movie for eight bucks.

The stock ended the day at $7.53, down $1.89 (-20.06%). The market cap is now just $476 million. The volume was about 16 million shares traded, about ten times the normal volume. It's telling that 25% of the total shares (16M/63M) were traded on one day. In other words, one-quarter of the total ownership fled.


"...we’ll start to open the kimono a little bit at our annual shareholder meeting," said Smith.

Oh marvelous. I trust that someone else will bring tweezers and a magnifying glass to assist with the examination of the corporate 'treasures'.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

TASR: Earnings double, but stock tanks

As of right now, they're down almost 18% (well under $8/share) and their market cap is under $500M.

Google Finance [LINK]
Forbes [LINK]
Reuters [LINK]


PS: Stinger Systems is suing them too... [LINK]

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Looking for 'proof' in all the wrong places

Some taser fanboys on the web are demanding proof. They won't accept even the possibility that there might be any sort of connection without some sort of "proof".

We've already discussed The Proof Issue [LINK] in that the X26 taser current (for example), whether 2mA "average" or 151mA RMS, is way too low to leave any physical signs. Even a coroner has admitted that there would be nothing to see. No sign. No evidence. No proof.

If there wasn't this proof issue, then there wouldn't be a controversy. It's a bit thick-headed not to understand this point and constantly demand proof of a connection.

If we ask a pro-taser fanboy about exactly what they would accept as proof, I can predict exactly how it'll go:

"We's demand scientiphic papers."
Okay - A, B, and C.
"No, not those ones! They're flawed."
Okay - X, Y, and Z.
"No, not those ones either! They're flawed in a different way. We demand a coroner's report."
Okay - D, E, F, G, and H for example.
"No, not them. They're wrong and they're being sued. Try again."
Sigh...

[Note - I've already had these sorts of exchanges. Waste of time.]

So - how about we turn it around?

Where is the 'scientific paper' where Taser explains why the previously-specified RMS current of 151mA (X26) or 162 mA (M26) are not a safety considerations? And how about they compare the specified currents against a COMPLETE risk model of the IEC 479-1, including a Bell Curve analysis (not just 5% population cut-off) to define EXACTLY (numerically) what has been calculated for the respiration and cardiac risk (including both temporary rhythm capture and ventricle fibrillation) based on a complete analysis of the entire weighted population (weighted by likelihood of being involved in a taser incident) including drug users and drunks, those with pacemaker wiring, and those susceptible to "Excited Delirium" [rolls-eyes]. Repeat for both the M26 and X26. Justify the differences between these two models. Assume worst case barb placement in all cases, and then show barb placement safety factor curve as a separate line item. Show your work.

Hint: The answer is not "zero". The answer is not "it's safe".

We'll know that they've provided a reasonable answer when we see something like: x.xx% risk of XXXX and z.zz% risk of ZZZZ (etc.). This value should be written on the specification sheet and explicitly addressed during training.

Actually, if they were a regulated industry (as they should be, since they're claiming "safety" for a weapon - which leads to Use Policy decisions), they'd have been forced to provide such information to the regulating agency before getting their products licensed for sale.

If they'd prefer not to calculate the exact numerical risks, then they should not be permitted to claim any level of safety. The government should impose a put up or shut up policy on Taser.

Again - the answers are numerical and will not be zero.

Their answers can be checked against what we're seeing with actual usage stats. A trained statistician can tell you if their numbers are believable as compared to the reasonably-adjusted stats. In other words, if they claim 1.1 parts per million risk (for example), then your statitican can look it over and report back: 'That's highly improbable based on what we're seeing on the street' or whatever.

All of this is common practice in industries where safety is critical.

What are the odds?

A tragic incident from August 2006, Red Deer, Alberta, in the news again.

CBC - ...RCMP said they hit Doan with a Taser three times after he struck an officer with a shovel handle. ... When Mounties rolled him over after the third shock, his face was blue. The strapping 28-year-old pipeline worker went into cardiac arrest. He then suffered seizures and plunged into a deep coma, dying in hospital three weeks later. He never regained consciousness. ... In Doan's case, the medical examiner listed three factors on the death certificate: excited delirium, heart failure and undetermined causes.

[LINK]

First - let's get this out of the way. If Doan had struck an officer with a shovel handle, then I don't believe that there is any issue with the decision to use the taser in this case. This does not appear to be a point of contention in this case.

Now, let's review the taser-safety question as relates to this incident.

Notice the quick timing. Shocked three times, rolled over, was already blue, cardiac arrest, later died. If you wish to believe that the tasering is unrelated to the death - feel free. But you're loco-loco if you insist on such denials in the face of such a tight sequence.

Let's use a stack of paper as an example. Imagine ten thousand sheets of paper... That stack of paper represents a week (7 days) of minutes. There are about 10,000 minutes in a week. Each sheet of paper is one minute; the whole stack is a week.

If a certain person has a heart condition, then they've probably had that heart condition for at least one week. If they're suffering from some undetermined condition, then that undetermined condition must have existed for some period, probably at least a week. 'Excited Delirium' ? - empty words. But then they are tasered and turn blue (within a minute or so) and eventually die. Very suspicious timing. What are the odds? One sheet of paper in a stack of ten thousand? Hey! I'm just asking.

But the phrase 'undetermined causes' is a very nice choice of words by the coroner. Perhaps it is a code-phrase for something that can't be mentioned by name at this point? Might this phrase be a wink and a nudge from the coroner?

"We want to know why he died. We want to know why a 28-year-old man, who is completely strong, ends up dying from being in a coma. If it wasn't the Taser, then what was it?" asked his sister...

Exactly.


This case is also interesting because it makes a lie of so many of the pro-taser arguments (the relationship to drugs and alcohol being just one example in this incident).

CBC - "A censored RCMP Taser report obtained by The Canadian Press and the CBC under the Access to Information Act says police believed or suspected that cocaine or alcohol 'had an impact on the suspect.' It is believed to be the report filed after the Doan confrontation, although the exact date and his name were stripped. Other details included in the form match what happened that day."

But unfortunately for this theory (if it is the same incident), "No drugs or alcohol were found in his system."


The family certainly deserves answers.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

This extract says it all...

"The [Taser] attorneys who filed the civil lawsuit [against Summit County Medical Examiner, Lisa Kohler] want the medical examiner to eliminate tasers as [a] cause of death from the autopsy reports..."

[LINK]

Imagine the chilling effect this has had on other coroners and medical examiners...

Headline of the Day

"Police Taser naked man in cavity"

Ouch - sounds painful.

[LINK]

Objective Reasonableness - did you get the memo?

Is this true? In Canada?

Found on-line: "The Use of Force Continuum is antiquated. It is now called Objective Reasonableness. No longer do police have to follow a continuum. They merely have to respond with actions that are objectively reasonable for the given situation."

If true, then this would be good news.

Did the police in Canada get the memo? They're still yammering on about The Continuum.

One of my concerns with the stupid old Use of Force Continuum is that these lists typically fail to demarcate between those that are simply non-compliant or passively resisting, and those that are violent.

This blatant flaw leads directly to the stupidly-obvious taser abuse such as "Let go of the rail." NO! ZAP!

Can we hold anyone accountable for this insane diversion into The Police State? And - is it over?

Another nice summary...

Although the X26 and older M26 tasers are each rated at about 2 milliamperes "average", they are also 151 mA and 162 mA RMS respectively. This information appears on early revisions of their specification sheets (and has been confirmed by outside investigators), but has been curiously expunged from later versions of those Taser specification sheets. Given that 2mA is way down in the "causes discomfort" range and is considered to be below the value needed to lock-up muscle, it seems quite suspicious to claim that the "average" current is the value to focus on. The RMS values (industry standard method to quantify AC) are highly interesting, as is the fact that they been expunged from their later data sheets.

Not everyone believes Taser's (Kroll's?) overly-complicated and almost-unbelieveable explanations about how they can lock-up a victim's muscles without having even the slightest possibility of affecting the heart. Considering the IEC479-1 safety limits are intended to protect 95% of the population (leaving 5% at risk in the worst case), and considering the very long tail of the Bell Curve out to 0.01% (for example), it makes one think that perhaps things are overlapping more than they've ever considered.

Also, all the parameters that Taser claimed were safe on the 1999-era M26 "Advanced" taser are the opposite on the 2003-era X26. The X26 taser is low frequency (more dangerous than high frequency) 19 Hz and continuous duty cycle for each 5 second cycle. Everything they used to explain away previous criticisms of the M26 are the opposite on the X26. If the M26 waveform was so precisely crafted, then why is the X26 waveform the complete opposite?

The Chairman of their in-house Medical Advisory Board was sitting on stock options worth roughly a mega-buck (depending on how the stock price went) while chairing this in-house committee. Smells like a conflict of interest.

Bernie Kerik was on Taser Board during some critical periods. Look him up to see if he's been accused of being a model citizen or not.

...

But to be clear, if the taser was employed as it was supposed to be employed (as a replacement for the gun), then who would care about the exact level of safety? But because Taser claims it is PERFECTLY safe (cardiac-wise, as exemplified by this trial [LINK]), it is being used about 100x more often than the gun ever was.

THAT'S the issue.

Taser takes skeptical M.E. to court

SUMMIT COUNTY, Ohio — Taser [normally wining and dining friendly coroners] wants a judge to order Summit County Medical Examiner Dr. Lisa Kohler to change her rulings that 'electrical pulse incapacitation' contributed to three men's deaths. A hearing began Monday in Summit County Common Pleas Court before visiting Judge Ted Schneiderman and is expected to last several days.

Then resign...

Vancouver Sun - British Columbia Solicitor-General John van Dongen refused to say Sunday whether he supports a policy that allows Greater Vancouver transit police to use Tasers on 'non-compliant' passengers. "I'm not going to answer that question," Van Dongen stated. "I'm not the expert on that." [LINK]

It's all explained in the right-hand column and previous posts. I believe that I have fully addressed all possible counter arguments. If anyone feels that tasering 'non-compliant' passengers is legal, then please feel free to post a comment explaining your logic.

Monday, April 21, 2008

In critical condition - from "Excited Delirium"?

Oxford, OH - Kevin Piskura, 24, of Chicago, was listed in critical condition Sunday, April 20, at University Hospital after being tasered. ... The officer used the Taser once against Piskura, hitting him in the chest. Piskura then fell to the ground and was handcuffed. Police said they noticed he was having trouble breathing while assessing his condition and he was taken by the Oxford Life Squad to McCullough-Hyde Hospital, then later flown to University Hospital.

[LINK] [LINK] [LINK] [LINK] [LINK]

But let's not jump to any conclusions about the safety of tasers... no no no.


I really hope he comes out okay.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

PR at its least subtle

Who will fall for this completely unsubtle PR ploy by Taser?

"The Drive to Remember will feature the Gagmewithafork One, a dedicated Hummer H3 completely wrapped in law enforcement graphics....receiving law enforcement escorts across two countries, one province, 19 states, and in 25 major cities."

The Taser "Foundation for Fallen Officers" 2008 Drive to Remember is a disgusting and grotesque public relations ploy. You'd have to be a complete moron to not see through it.

And with all the subtlety of an elephant with diarrhea, they're starting in Vancouver, BC (site of so much Taser abuse in Canada).

We should certainly not allow taxpayer's money ("law enforcement escorts") to be spent on this grotesque public relations stunt by Taser.

Safety Standard IEC xx479-1

The point of this posting is just to get familiar with the way these safety standards are presented.Here is a copy of 'Figure 1' from a paper that references IEC 60479-1.

As fas as I can see, this is an older version of IEC 479-1. I note that this one sets C1 at 40mA instead of 30mA.

I've added the Normal Distribution Bell Curve to try to explain the three lines: c1 at 5%, c2 at 50%, and c3 at 95%.

For a 5-second duration shock hazard, the c1 limit is 40mA. Even at 40mA, 5% of those exposed would experience ventricular fibrillation. That's an important issue because even 5% would be significant. For this sort of application, personally I don't think that 5% can be considered to be close enough to zero (0.1% might be arguably reasonable).

Click image for larger version.

Choose one: tasers or respect

The Vancouver Province:
Memo to Tasering transit coppers [LINK]

Times & Transcript (NB):
Where else can we use a taser? [LINK]

So, how's that whole "Community Relationship" thingy going? Do you enjoy being mocked? Are you willing to trade-in whatever respect your agency might have earned over the years for a weapon that seems to inevitably invoke a level of misuse that leads directly to the situation you're now finding yourself in?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Q: Which is more dangerous: M26 or X26?

A: I don't know.

It seems that Taser can't even discuss this question because then they would be forced to admit that the risk with either product is non-zero. Once we have a non-zero number from Taser, then we could multiply it by the annual usage rate to determine the expected annual death rate. I've not seen any indication that Taser has ever provided any explicit numerical value for the estimated risk. If anyone has ever seen such a thing, please leave a comment with a pointer.

The M26 was introduced in 1999 and was touted as having an "Advanced" waveform. It was Taser's first really successful product.

The X26 was introduced in May 2003. It's waveform is completely different than the older M26. It is now Taser's biggest seller.

The two products are compared more-or-less side-by-side in Taser document LG-STND-TECDBEC-001 (except it does not include the RMS current values which were mentioned in some earlier documents). See previous post [LINK] for some extracts from this document.

The most significant difference in the two waveforms relates to the 19 Hz component of the X26 waveform. Whereas the M26 produces a short pulse, the X26 waveform produces a continuous 100% duty cycle frequency component at 19 Hz. Because Taser's Kroll constantly mentions the "chronaxie" (a time constant) he seems to have not understood that the 19 Hz component of the X26 waveform is continuous 100% duty cycle for the full 5-second duration of each cycle.

On this point the X26 waveform is much different than the M26 waveform.

So the question really comes down to the significance of the following specifications for the X26 taser. And note that these are cut-and-paste or derived directly from Taser specification sheets.

Average current = 2 mA
RMS Current = 151 mA
Frequency = 19 Hz
Duty Cycle = 100%
Duration = 5 seconds (or 5000 milliseconds), and often repeated

When I plot these two current values on the IEC 479 graph I get the following (below). Although this graph is for "50 Hz" (as opposed to 19 Hz), another chart in that same IEC standard shows that the frequency effect (high frequencies are safer) flattens out at low frequencies such as 50 or 60 (or 19) Hz.

I note that 2mA is so low as to be incapable of even locking up muscle ('b'-curve). But since we know that is what the taser does, it leaves only the question about the importance of the 151 mA RMS current spec (data which was expunged from later revisions of the specification sheet).

These complexities are why I would like to see CSA get involved with this question.

"Hamilton police shot and killed dozens last year."

The above headline is fake.

But taser fan-boys would have us believe that it would be true if the police have their taser-toys taken away.

The actual story is that a taser ignited something flammable injuring someone that was being tasered. The story [LINK] ends with the following sentence:

"Hamilton police discharged their Tasers 50 times last year."

50 times per year. This rate of [mis]use reveals the claim that "tasers replace guns" as the bald-faced lie that it is.

Tasers are obviously replacing lower forms of lawful force (talking, waiting, the simplest of martial arts).

That makes their net benefit to society -> negative.

B.C. Transit Police making their mark on history

CBC: B.C. transit police stun fare cheaters with Taser [LINK]
CBC: Expert questions use of Tasers on Vancouver transit cheats [LINK]
CBC: No change to TransLink taser use: police [LINK]

"Transit police policy says officers are allowed to use their Tasers to control non-compliant, suicidal or violent people. The civil liberties association complaint takes issue with the phrase non-compliant."

Their policy is WRONG.

Someone should trace the origin of that policy error. What idiot is responsible for it?


More...

Vancouver Sun: TransLink has to rein in its Taser-happy cops before someone is injured or killed [LINK]

Friday, April 18, 2008

Duty-cycle of 19 Hz component = 100%

"LEVELS OF SHOCK: The Taser X26 puts out 2 milliamperes [("average"), or 151mA RMS] 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."

Any complex waveform can be reduced to a series of sine waves. And a series of sine waves can be combined to produce any complex waveform. That's about all you need to know about the Fourier transform. This transform isn't just a math trick for representation and analysis; the relationship between the time domain and the frequency domain is perfectly real. These frequency components actually exist and will interact with whatever they meet.

What this means is that if a certain waveform is periodic and repeats at 19 Hz, then the frequency component at 19 Hz is CONTINUOUS 100% DUTY CYCLE at that frequency. Especially if the waveform is offset from zero (as is the X26). Although the waveform may be a pulse of current that lasts only about 100 microseconds, the frequency component at 19 Hz is a perfectly normal sine wave at 19 Hz.

Taser's specifications for the X26 waveform are 19 Hz, 2mA "average" (and 151 mA RMS according to the older specification sheets).

The 19 Hz component is CONTINUOUS 100% DUTY CYCLE during each 5-second cycle.

Keep this (the low frequency and continuous 100% duty cycle) in mind when fitting the taser waveform specifications against the applicable safety standards. Don't be misled about the 100-microseconds when considering the X26 waveform.

The older 1999-era M26 "advanced" waveform was quite different. It was a nicely damped burst of 50 kHz so that it's primary frequency component was quite likely at that frequency. The newer 2003-era X26 waveform is quite different in that the primary component is a DC pulse repeating at 19 Hz which results in a primary frequency at 19 Hz. They're totally different waveforms.

I don't understand why they switched from a low duty cycle (safer) high frequency (safer) waveform with the 1999-era M26, to a continuous duty cycle (more dangerous) low frequency (more dangerous) waveform with the 2003-era X26. Apparently they walked away from a couple of safety factors for a stated 5% increase in their so-called Muscular Disruption Units.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Trend... is there a problem?

'Truth ... Not Tasers' data [LINK], graphed month-by-month (data for April 2008 is excluded since the month is incomplete). Click image for larger version.

The self-evident increase post-2003 visible in this data (almost a step function) may have many contributing factors. I'll let the readers draw their own conclusions as to what these factors might be.

Update: Here is the basically same graph but with an added 6-month running average. Click to view full-size image.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Attn SECU: a call for CSA to get involved

The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) is similar to the US Underwriters Laboratory (UL). They conduct research, set standards, and test products to make sure that they're safe.

They would have unassailable experts on their staff that would know about the difference between average and RMS current, and they would know the applicable safety standards. They would be able to provide expert and unbiased advice to the SECU committee regarding the purported safety margin (remember Smith's evidence: "15 to 1" safety margin?) of the various taser devices (M26 and X26).

The CSA experts could look at the specification sheets, and could even comment on the changes to those spec sheets over time (RMS current value expunged, why?).

I see no downside to the CSA being asked to get involved at this point. To ensure that you receive a consensus opinion, invite not just one expert, but two or three of their experts. They should all agree. This should settle the argument about safety once and for all (provided that they do not overlook any real information hidden under a layer of Taser smoke and mirrors).

At the outset, all that is required is a documentation review (pretty quick). Just compare the specified current values ("average" and RMS) to the applicable safety standards in Canada. Actual equipment testing can follow later if required.

By the way, keep Taser out it it for now. Just get CSA's unbiased opinion based on present electric safety standards and compare those to the taser spec sheets (including RMS current values). DO NOT ALLOW TASER TO INFLUENCE THIS EVIDENCE. Ask the CSA experts if they have had any contact from Taser or similar taser proponents, or if they have ever had any relationship to the taser controversy.

As a starting point, here is a graph that Taser's Kroll included in his IEEE Spectrum article. I've added the red information regarding the X26 taser's RMS current ("151 mA RMS" from the early X26 specification sheet, expunged in later revisions, rarely mentioned) and primary frequency component (just 19 Hz).

"Tasers are violent, dangerous instruments..."

I notice a trend.

In the past, editorials on the subject of tasers would often make the same sort of illogical statements that have been analyzed and shredded in this blog, and the opinion writer would often parrot the propaganda from Taser. Or if they happened to mention the words Taser and Death in the same headline, then they'd issue a "correction" the next day.

But in recent weeks, I notice that more and more editorials are making more statements that would have (even recently) caused Taser's non-PR and/or Less-than-Legal departments to go into spasms of well-rehearsed phony-rage. But now those editorials seem to go unchallenged (at least as far as we can see). Interesting.

For example, the Daytona Beach News-Journal [LINK] has included the choice sentence, "Tasers are violent, dangerous instruments that inflict immense pain."

The main point of the News-Journal editorial was to chastise the local police for not fully correcting their extremely-flawed taser 'Use Policy'. Even though they've finally brought it into rough alignment with common sense and long-established Civil Rights, they're still missing a few key points.

Is this a good place to mention again that ACLU-NC (Northern CA) found that 95% of law enforcement agencies were using taser 'Use Policies' written by Taser? And this in spite of Taser claiming that "TASER International does not create, recommend, or endorse policy."

Friday, April 11, 2008

Small things amuse small minds

Funny (or sad) that Taser feels the urge to take credit for this trivial incident.

Headline: Taser Helps Save Toddler From Locked Car

Read the Taser news release [LINK] and you eventually get to the part where they reveal that it was the taser's laser pointer that was used to draw the toddler's attention to the car door Unlock button. In other words, if the officer had been carrying a 9mm Glock with a laser pointer, then he could have done the same thing.

Of course, this does provide a clear example of the taser (with laser pointer) actually being used as a replacement for the gun (with laser pointer). And I suppose that the taser might actually be safer than the gun in this example, only because the child is protected behind the glass.

Personally, I would have simply called a tow truck where the operators can typically open a locked car door in 20 seconds or so.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

151 mA RMS - Is that info coming or going ?

Background: Taser constantly mentions that the X26 taser has an average current of just 2 milliamperes. A current of 2 mA seems reasonably safe. But the word "average" is a red flag to a skeptic ("lies, damn lies, and statistics"), especially when applied to the current of a complex waveform (EEs would normally use RMS values). Further investigation revealed that the X26 taser is 151 mA RMS (root mean square). A current of 151 mA RMS (with a primary frequency component at just 19 Hz) is enough to raise eyebrows with respect to purported safety margins.

Here is the latest twist to the tale (not new, but I just noticed).

I had made the assumption that Taser had added the RMS current value to later revisions of the X26 taser specification sheet once they had noticed their omission. I assumed it was an innocent mistake corrected once they noticed.

Well it turns out that this attention-getting RMS value is mentioned on the earlier versions of the X26 specification sheet, but not the later versions.

Very interesting sequence. Why was this interesting factoid (the RMS current) dropped from theX26 specification sheet? Did they crunch the data to manufacture numerical values that seemed on their face to be 'low', and did they intentionally expunged from the specification sheet the value(s) that seemed to be 'high'? Hey, I'm just asking.

(For copyright information regarding these extracts from published Taser documents, please refer to the Copyright 'Fair Use' Notice in the right-hand column.)


(C) 2003 Taser

(C) 2007 Taser (correction)

Common sense - if you knock it perhaps you lack it

There is a PowerPoint slide package published on the web (ECD Law) by Taser lawyer Mr. Brave that pooh-poohs the application of common sense (and I think he, to his peril, includes fundamental logic and philosophical arguments in this category). He practically dares that such common sense should ever challenge "science".

Well excuse me Mr. Brave.

If you've paid the slightest attention to the history of science, and the meaning and intent of the words hypothesis and theory, then you should know better. Science is often 'Science Du Jour'.

For example - one year milk (or beef, or coffee) is good for you, then next year it isn't. As comedian Lewis Black once ranted, "Everything I know about health has changed ten times in my lifetime." Another example, paleoanthropologists find a new bone that destroys all their previous detailed theories. This happens in many fields. Sometimes the change is a subtle improvement, other times it is a complete do-over.

So Mr. Brave, don't be overly confident in science over common sense. A bit of both is better than either one by itself.

PS: The X26 taser is 151 mA RMS with a primary frequency component at just 19 Hz. Put that data point on your chart and smoke it.



We know that the taser 'Induces pain'. We know that the taser 'Locks up muscles'. Taser has admitted that it can 'Interfere with breathing'. Some observers claim that the taser could cause the heart to behave erratically [LINK].

So which dot is correct? Average or RMS?

And as was discussed in a previous post, a frequency component (such as 19 Hz) is a sine wave, just like a sine wave.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Drug addicts - get past the image, use logic

A drug addict is, obviously, someone that is addicted to (often illegal) drugs. In other words, they're probably taking these drugs quite a bit. This high rate of usage more-or-less follows logically from the meaning of the word "addict"; once we get past the distracting negative image.

Monday: Take drugs.
Tuesday: Take drugs.
Wednesday: Take drugs.
Thursday: Take drugs.
Wednesday: Take drugs.
Thursday: Take drugs.
Friday: Take drugs.
Saturday: Take drugs.
Sunday: Take drugs.
Monday: Take drugs.
Tuesday: Take drugs.
Wednesday: Take drugs.
Thursday: Take drugs.
Friday: Take drugs.
Saturday: Take drugs.
Sunday: Take drugs.
Monday: Take drugs.
Tuesday: Take drugs.
Wednesday: Take drugs.
Thursday: Take drugs. Tasered. Died.

Well obviously it was the drugs that killed him. The taser obviously had nothing to do with it.

{ROLLS EYES}

Obviously such drug use could be a contributing factor. Hell, it could even be a MAJOR contributing factor. But to leave out any mention of the taser is either intellectually dishonest, or pays too much respect to the questionable "science" that concludes that the taser is 'perfectly safe'.

Monday, April 7, 2008

UPDATE: Schizophrenia Society position

Headlines not quite aligned with reality.

Recent headlines:
"Mental health group stands behind Tasers" [LINK]
"Mental health group says police use of Taser is far better than a gun" [LINK]


Actually (according to my sources):
"Dr. Gray’s comments are his own"
...with respect to the position of the society at the national level. The Schizophrenia Society at the national level is drafting a policy that appears likely to approximately follow the recommendations of RCMP watchdog Kennedy.

Fact-Check Time:
It is hardly the ringing endorsement of tasers that the media is making out of Dr. Gray's comments. The media should follow-up with the national organization to get the complete story.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

If you like sausage, best not to see it being made

Mark Backlund died after being stunned with a Taser by the police. The 29-year-old Minnesota man was said to have been 'uncooperative' after being involved in a car crash.

It seems to be a clear case of how the overall taser statistics are created and maintained:
1) Tasered and died [LINK]
2) Autopsy inconclusive [LINK] (see note*)
3) Death Certificate lists everything EXCEPT taser [LINK]

I'd like to see the exact logic used to make the decision to leave out any mention of the taser. What factors and data (and what propaganda, and what influence) went into that decision? It seems, on its face, to be an extraordinary decision to mention everything else, but not the taser.

Why does Taser court the affections of coroners and medical examiners? Invite them (all expenses paid) to speak at conferences. Even wine and dine them (?). It is certainly a very strange relationship.

If a company that makes ice cream had such intimate relationships with coroners and medical examiners, well I certainly wouldn't be eating any of their ice cream...

(* Note: Inconclusive as would be expected. What would you expect? This was discussed in previous posts: [LINK1] [LINK2] [LINK3])

"... far preferred to a gun..." If only. Dream on.

2007 British Columbia
496 taser incidents
Robert Dziekanski, killed Oct. 2007
Robert Knipstrom, died Nov. 2007

Would BC police have shot (with a gun) hundreds of people in one year if they hadn't been equipped with the taser? Is this what your argument is based on?

And keep in mind that tasers are far from universally employed by all law enforcement agencies in B.C. It would seem only natural that if they became more widely employed, that the associated outcomes based on the risk (never explicitly numerically defined by Taser) would increase in proportion to their availability.

In other words, virtually every police officer in B.C. has a gun. Relatively few have a taser. In spite of this huge statistical advantage to the taser, their statistics are still looking pretty horrid.

Time to cut-and-paste from my previous summary:

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.

Misled and apparently unaware

(CP) VANCOUVER - Mixed messages are being received by a Commons committee looking into use of Tasers by Canadian police. While some groups are urging a moratorium on Taser use, the Schizophrenia Society says the shock weapons are far preferred to a gun. The society's John Gray says has seen people volunteer to be jolted with a Taser, but hasn't heard of anyone volunteering to be shot by a gun. ... [LINK]

John Gray is a past president of the society at the national level, and reportedly a board member with the B.C. Schizophrenia Society. "...we would like to choose the Taser over a gun," Gray said. [LINK]

Let's straighten out a few facts:

1) The taser might well be preferable to a gun if it was actually used as a replacement for a gun.

In fact, its rate of usage is roughly two orders of magnitude (one hundred times) higher than the historically and accepted rate of police shootings (this varies widely by jurisdiction and agency).

The taser is a replacement for talking, for negotiation, and even for the very simplest of martial arts. It is only very rarely used as a clear replacement for the gun. If the police had been shooting people with guns at the rate that they're using the taser, there would have been a revolution.

2) The taser might well be preferable to a gun if the current (X26 is 151 mA RMS) was reduced to provide a level of safety that isn't quite so self-evidently risky.

Reportedly Stinger Systems makes a similar product using 75% less current. I'm not a huge fan of Stinger Systems, but at least they appear to be aware of the issue of current versus safety.

3) One of the chief proponents of taser safety is Dr. Mark Kroll, an "independent" (not really) Director of Taser. Reportedly, he has NEVER been tasered (scared of something). So far as I am aware, he has not accepted my challenge to be repeatedly tasered across the chest by a genuine X26 taser. My other conditions to ensure a fair test have been stated previously.

4) Virtually all of the so-called demos and training episodes using the taser do not place the barbs across the chest where they would sometimes land during street (or airport) deployments.

These so-called demos might as well be labeled as "FAKE" for all the applicability they have to real life deployments where the officer AIMS AT THE CHEST (and occasionally even hits it). Luck of the draw - quite literally.


Mr. Gray's opinion (quite fairly summarized as: 'Better than a gun, eh?') appears to be based on a knowledge gap. That gap could be filled by reviewing the contents of this blog as well as other sources.

If the overall taser issue was as simple as his statement indicates, then there wouldn't be a Common Committee studying the issue in such depth. And I wouldn't have had to create such a monstrously huge blog to address the many subtle and complex angles to this issue.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Weapon of choice? Why not start with 'Respect'.

Montgomery, AL -- ...The police officer, who was assigned to the school, responded to a fight between two girls [16 & 19 years old] that broke out behind the school. ... The officer had his tasergun out in an effort to break up the fight when several people jumped on his back. The taser went off, subsequently striking the officer. [LINK]

Not exactly what I would consider an optimal approach and probably not exactly the desired outcome.

Suggestion: Try working on that whole 'Community Relationship' thingy.

The view from New Zealand

Barry Wilson is president, and Ian McIntosh an executive member, of the Auckland Council for Civil Liberties. Both are barristers. What follows are some nice extracts from their article of Friday April 04, 2008. [LINK]


The Taser stun gun is a dangerous weapon that can maim or kill. ... It has the capacity to inflict immense pain and suffering. ...

...[T]he introduction of the Taser is likely to have a negative impact on front-line police officers, on the image of the police in the eyes of the public and on New Zealand's international reputation as a champion of human rights. ...

Police [mis]use of the Taser during the trial does not inspire confidence that the stun guns would be used responsibly or in accordance with regulatory guidelines if they were to be permanently introduced. ...

Police officers can be prosecuted in cases where they use excessive force against citizens. Any officer who uses a Taser in breach of such guidelines, i.e. to induce compliance with an unco-operative but otherwise non-aggressive person, would be obliged to accept the consequences in law in the same way [if only] as an ordinary citizen is liable for prosecution. Officers could also be the target of private prosecutions, civil lawsuits and complaints to the Police Complaints Authority. ...

In November 2007, the United Nations Committee against Torture stated "the use of the Taser ex 26 [X26?] weapons provoking extreme pain constituted a form of torture, and in certain cases it could also cause death, as shown by several reliable studies and by certain cases that happened after practical use". New Zealand of course is a signatory to the UN Convention against Torture.

Moreover, the UN code of conduct for law enforcement officials precludes officials from inflicting, instigating or tolerating any act of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

The repugnance of the state supporting the use of torture is reflected in comments by New Zealand's acknowledged greatest jurist, Sir Robin Cooke, who noted in one case, "I do not think that literal compulsion, by torture, for instance, would be within the lawful powers of Parliament. Some common law rights presumably lie so deep that even Parliament would not override them."

Thus, introducing the Taser is likely to expose the Government to justifiable accusations that it has breached our obligations under international law and the Bill of Rights.

Conclusion New Zealand is not a police state. The Commissioner of Police is entirely unsuitable as a decision maker on the introduction of Tasers. For the decision to have validity, it should be made in Parliament by a free vote on a law change, after a public inquiry.

The dangerous consequences of introducing the Taser raise huge doubts as to whether the Government should even be considering allowing police to be armed with the weapon.


Compare the elegant prose of Sir Robin Cooke ("I do not think that literal compulsion, by torture, for instance, would be within the lawful powers of Parliament. Some common law rights presumably lie so deep that even Parliament would not override them.") to the mindless 'law-and-order' drivel originating from the taser spokespuppets.

The point being quoted here is basically the same one I've been making:

Lawful 'Force' is NOT a verb.


PS: For Taser's Non-PR and/or Less-than-Legal department, here ya go:

Auckland Council for Civil Liberties
PO Box 6582, Wellesley Street , Auckland
Phone: + 64 (9) 376-9670

Knock yourself out. Don't forget the time zone.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Truth or Dare

Tom Smith at SECU (30 January 2008): "The way not to get tasered or subjected to any use of force is to not fight with police."

Bull!

"...didn't hear the officer's commands because he was listening to his iPod..." [LINK]

That speeder in Utah wasn't fighting with police either = $40,000 settlement.

If you follow the news, you'll see many other examples.

The two primary issues in a few well-chosen words

Hon. Ujjal Dosanjh (Member of Parliament in Canada):

"I was the attorney general in British Columbia when, for the first time in Canada, the device was introduced by the Victoria police subsequent to a pilot project. I was assured that it was absolutely non-lethal and that it would be used sparingly by the police. I have now come to believe that it's riskier than I was led to believe, and in fact it is not being used as sparingly as it ought to have been used."

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Taser fanboys: Justify this...

(CP) VICTORIA — A Victoria lawyer says his 15-year-old client was locked in handcuffs in the back seat of a police cruiser when an RCMP officer twice zapped him with a Taser. Lawyer Tom Morino says officers seem to be using the shock devices more for an “attitude adjustment” than as a last resort. ... [LINK]

Even on its face, this incident defies logic.

And the local Crown Prosecutor should explain why he isn't investigating the possibility of laying criminal charges against the officer in question.

Quebec Public Security Minister two-thirds correct

Quebec Public Security Minister Jacques Dupuis said the Taser may only be used when a citizen refuses to obey a police officer, places the officer's life, his own life or other lives in danger. [LINK]

"...when a citizen refuses to obey a police officer..." ?????

Sorry Jacques, that part of your statement is not correct - no matter what the out-of-date 'Use of Force' polices (written by Taser?) might state.

Please review the Criminal Code of Canada section 269.1.

If a police officer uses his taser to intimidate or coerce a passively-resisting, peaceful citizen then he's liable to spend up to 14 years in jail for doing so.

Reasonable force (noun) is what is allowed. 'Force' is not a verb. Police are not normally allowed to use pain to 'force' someone to do something (there may be rare exceptions).

Inflicting severe pain (tasering) for purposes of pain compliance is a crime.

There are plenty of details and examples regarding 269.1 in this blog.

This blog even address the defective legal theory that such taser-torture is a "lawful sanction" (in case you're wondering). It isn't. Not even close.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Taser X26 specs again...

This issue was raised before [LINK] but it's time to review it again...

(C) IEEE Spectrum - fair use claimed

"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."

Where do I start?

A spectral component, for example the 19 Hz component of the X26 current waveform, is (by definition) a single frequency (19 Hz in this case) and therefore that component is a pure sine wave no matter what its origin. This is elementary to those that understand the basics. This makes the statement ("...as the rest of the chart...") about the data points being not comparable somewhat misleading.

As was mentioned before:
1) The taser (X26 for example) induces severe, even EXTREME, pain.
2) It certainly locks up muscles - that's its purpose.
3) Taser has admitted that it can interfere with breathing.
4) Some people might reasonably ask if it could cause the heart to 'behave erratically'

So why is that 'Taser Shock' data point shown where it is shown? What's with that?

The RMS current of the X26 isn't 2 mA. The RMS current is (from the X26 data sheet) is 151 mA. Why do they even mention the RMS current on the spec sheet if it isn't relevant? Although RMS makes the value useful for power calculations (as opposed to averages which are useless for almost anything), the RMS value is still yet to be squared to make it proportional to power. So don't be misled in that regard.

I've reviewed the X26 waveform and I can't tell what the amplitude of the 19 Hz component is, but it looks more like 151 mA than 2 mA (if I had to choose one). Where does 151mA fall on the chart?

Has anyone produced a current spectrum graph yet? It would certainly resolve this issue once and for all (assuming it was made honestly). See [LINK].

What does "cause heart to behave erratically" imply about delayed cardiac issues? Hey, I'm just asking...