Mission Statement - De-Spinning the Pro-Taser Propaganda

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

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

Saturday, May 31, 2008

15 second time limit ?

Dr. Graeme Dowling: "In electrocution deaths, ...any person who receives an electrical current of sufficient strength to stop their heart will be unresponsive in 15 seconds. Some are immediately, but the maximum is about 15 seconds. So when we look at the discharge of taser, if the person becomes unresponsive when the taser is being discharged, or within 15 seconds of the discharge, an argument could be made that the taser might be the cause of death." [LINK]

Ah, no. That's just plain wrong: using the logic of (high current) electrocution and trying to apply those rules-of-thumb to a taser-associated death. Wrong.

That 15-second time limit would probably apply in most cases of normal (high current) electrocution. But whatever it is that the taser does (when things go badly) certainly wouldn't be a normal (high current) electrocution.

The (M26 or X26) taser's output current is, at most, on the hairy edge of being dangerous for some people under some circumstances. The studies are not showing that the hearts are being stopped dead. The studies are reporting ventricular fibrillation, ventricular tachycardia, and various heart rhythm problems. And who knows what they'll find next?


Here are some references:

"It took up to 4 hours for healthy, anesthetized swine to recover from these adverse taser effects." [LINK]

"Of 16 discharges [into the adrenalized pigs], there were 13 episodes of myocardial stimulation, of which one induced ventricular fibrillation and one caused ventricular tachycardia." [LINK]

What does "cause heart to behave erratically" imply about delayed cardiac issues? [LINK]

"The team of doctors and scientists at the trauma centre in Chicago's Cook County hospital stunned 11 pigs with Taser guns in 2006, hitting their chests with 40-second jolts of electricity, pausing for 10 to 15 seconds, then hitting them for 40 more seconds. When the jolts ended, every animal was left with heart rhythm problems, the researchers said. Two of the animals died from cardiac arrest, one three minutes after receiving a shock." [LINK]

So, there is no basis for this "15-seconds" claim.

And there are several studies that indicate that this claim is simply not true.

It seems very clear that experts in electrocution deaths need to clear their minds before entering the taser-associated death discussion.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Taser's [OTHER] PR man in Ottawa

I received a tip from 'K' (thanks!):

Taser ... have a Conservative lined up (the guy in your story [LINK]), and a Liberal (the guy in this story, [extract below]). So they're covered either way.

National Post (May 23, 2008): More than 140 new clients have registered with lobbyists so far this month, including former MP Don Boudria, who recently signed up to represent the Taser stun gun to government. Just in case Taser International brass don't know this, Mr. Boudria is a born Liberal with a son trying to become a Liberal MP. And that sort of partisan resume won't open many doors in Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day's offices. [LINK]

Well, perhaps it will help after the next election. As they say, horses for courses.

"...vulnerable period of the heart cycle..."

Dr. Andrew McCallum: "The only inference I would draw from that is that prolonged application is going to make it more likely that you'll have a discharge during that vulnerable period of the heart cycle..." [LINK]

The older 1999-era M26 taser emits 15 to 20 pulses per second for 5-seconds. A heart beats about once or twice per second. So, with the M26 taser, there are about one hundred opportunities for one of those many pulses to land in the wrong spot during those five or ten heart cycles (if that's your theory).

But with the newer 2003-era X26, the waveform is different. The primary frequency component of the X26 taser at 19Hz (and harmonics) is continuous 100% duty cycle for the entire duration of each 5-second deployment cycle. There's no question that the X26 waveform is present for the entire 5-second deployment cycle.

Still don't get it?

Read this post very carefully: [LINK]

Don't feel bad, even the Brain Trust at Taser don't seem to get this point.

Minister of Public Safety appears before SECU

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security (SECU) met on Wednesday, April 30, 2008 and it was agreed: "That the Minister of Public Safety be invited to appear in camera in relation to the Taser study." [LINK]

And thus, a couple of days ago, on Wednesday, May 28, 2008, the Hon. Stockwell Day, Minister of Public Safety, appeared before SECU regarding their Taser Study. [LINK]

The meeting was 'in camera' (secret) and we do not know what was said. But I bet that it was interesting.


Previous post about the Hon. Mr. Day: [LINK]

Police taser man suffering diabetic seizure

NaturalNews (May 29, 2008) - Police in Ozark, Alabama, tasered and arrested an unconscious, sober man who was having a diabetic seizure on November 6, then charged him with drunk driving and resisting arrest. ... When James Bludsworth, 54, failed to respond to their commands, the officers fired tasers at his unconscious body three times. ... [LINK]

Nice touch - charging him with drunk driving ("scoring 0.00 on a breathalyzer") and resisting arrest (while unconscious).

Lawsuit time!!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Dziekanski - restraint asphyxia?

An article in The Province [LINK] is headlined:

Robert Dziekanski may have died from suffocation while restrained

Although I'm absolutely-positively not an expert on this topic, I understand that such a proposed asphyxia death would normally leave obvious pathological clues.

1. Pulmonary edema, with froth in trachea and bronchi.
2. Bulky, crepitant and over‑distended lungs.
3. Right ventricular dilatation.
...and possibly more...

Ref.: Asphyxia, Dr. J.A.J. Ferris [LINK]

On the other hand, a hypothetical taser-induced death might leave no physical evidence whatsoever (which should be interpreted as very strong evidence in itself).

So, this speculation seems to be perfectly meaningless. If asphyxia is the cause of death, then the autopsy results should indicate asphyxia and provide some details to justify that conclusion. On the other hand, if the autopsy results are inconclusive, then that lack of evidence would point in another direction.

RCMP swallows 'Excited Delirium' theory

(CP) EDMONTON — All RCMP officers in Alberta must now receive training on a controversial disorder linked to people who have died after being zapped by electronic stun guns such as Tasers. The training program may be rolled out across the country, according to RCMP officials. “Excited delirium” is a non-medical term used by some police and medical experts to describe a condition in which a person becomes extremely agitated and dangerously hostile, exhibiting exceptional strength without getting tired. While Mounties issued with Tasers are taught about excited delirium, all 2,200 RCMP officers in Alberta have been ordered to familiarize themselves with the condition whether or not they carry the stun gun. The officers are being taught that people experiencing excited delirium are in a life-threatening medical emergency and must be taken into custody so they can be transported to hospital for treatment. And they are being told that using a conducted energy weapon such as a Taser is probably the best way to subdue them. [LINK]

Tsk tsk tsk. Someone hasn't being paying attention. And perhaps someone has been brainwashed by Taser.


Remember what University of B.C. psychiatrist Dr. Joseph Noone, who deals daily with extremely agitated patients, said? [LINK]

"There is no such medical term as excited delirium. It's basically an excuse for everything that happens and an excuse to blame it on the person who dies and not on the person [arresting him]. It provides a convenient post-mortem explanation for in-custody deaths where physical and mechanical restraints and conducted-energy weapons were employed."

Taser used in (non)armed robbery

Earlier this month, I posted a thought experiment ('gedanken') about how criminals might use tasers to commit very serious crimes, and get away with significantly less punishment because the authorities defined the taser as non-lethal for their own purposes (and didn't think it all the way through to the unintended consequences). [LINK]

My example (above) was about a hypothetical taser (non)murder.

The following story is about a real-life taser (non)armed robbery.

St. Tammany News (Tuesday, May 27, 2008) - A St. Tammany Parish jury may have set a precedent this week when it comes to charging thieves armed with an electronic stun gun with armed robbery. Ten out of 12 jurors did not agree Tuesday that such a weapon causes “great bodily harm,” as required under Louisiana law to charge someone with armed robbery. Pearl River’s Gary Perez, 40, was instead convicted after two hours of jury deliberation with first-degree robbery for the 2005 convenience store hold up, a charge that carries a jail term at least 50 years less than armed robbery. ... [LINK]

I ended with:

Be careful what you wish for - you may actually get it.

$145M lawsuit

(AP) - The family of a Frederick man who died after he was struck by a deputy's Taser has filed a $145 million lawsuit against Frederick County. The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt alleges that 20-year-old Jarrel Gray died as a result of being shocked twice by a Taser on Nov. 18. A county grand jury ruled May 9 that Frederick County Sheriff's Corporal Rudy Torres was justified in using his Taser to subdue Gray after Gray did not obey commands to show his hands. [LINK]

You may recall two previous posts about Corporal Rudy Torres. [LINK] [LINK] "Frederick County, MD, USA: One officer, Corporal Rudy Torres, has deployed his taser seven times [another report says NINE] in the past two years. ..."

RCMP tasered disabled men

This news item [LINK] is not about recent incidents, but recent incidents (for example [LINK] [LINK]) indicate that the same attitude probably exists within at least some RCMP members even today.

These sorts of incidents provide yet more justification for a moratorium on tasers. Even if for no other reason to let the RCMP know that if they abuse a "law enforcement tool", it can be taken away from them. This is a lesson they need to learn. If the RCMP were misusing, abusing and overusing their horses to the same degree as they seem to be their tasers, then they'd be doing the Musical Walk instead of the Musical Ride.

It is very good to see that the Braidwood Inquiry is getting good exposure to the dark side of the taser story.

Taser has a great day - stock drops

Taser held their Annual Meeting today (28 May 2008). It must have been an interesting day. I have visions of an angry mob of shareholders clutching torches and pitchforks, and noosed ropes being tossed over sturdy tree limbs.

Smith-for-brains announced some sort of new (overpriced) walkie-talkie product [yawn]. They announced that they've won dismissals in a couple of lawsuits. And some unhappy shareholders are going after some naked short sellers (yeah, good luck with that...). Seems like a good day for Taser.

But even with all this good news, the share price dropped a bit over 1% today. The price is within a few cents of it's 52-week low. And with all these inquiries and reports coming out, it looks to be a very interesting summer (just my opinion).

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Many good reasons for a moratorium

In a previous post [LINK], I'd mentioned that there seemed to be plenty of good reasons for a moratorium on tasers.

If the Braidwood Inquiry finds any credible evidence that tasers are possibly dangerous in ways other than those specifically mentioned by the manufacturer (falling down), or even if the claimed level of safety is unproven, then the training to-date can be considered to be defective. All existing officer taser training certificates would be declared invalid. All trainers would be similarly sent back to school. All the training courses would need to be redesigned, and then all the officers would have to be re-educated. This might easily take a year.

If a moratorium has a secondary effect of drawing world-wide attention to the taser safety issue, then that is a very good thing. It is very likely that anything less would be widely ignored. But a moratorium anywhere in Canada would cut-through the propaganda like a knife. The attention-getting moratorium would also capture the attention of police officers within Canada. It seems that the taser-safety question hasn't fully percolated into their conciousness quite yet (Kamloops, 82-year old).

And if the tertiary effect of such a decision is to give Taser a good hard smack up-side the head, that's just yet another benefit. Maybe such a serious cracking of the whip would reduce the tom-foolery and clever word-smithing.

The moratorium might also force the police to revisit their other incident deescalation skills.

It would also remind the police that if tools are abused, tools can be taken away. The Ottawa Citizen said as much, "If officers want to retain the option of using Tasers when they're necessary, they should stop pulling them out when they're not necessary." [LINK]

It would also remind the police officials to not be so readily accepting of a manufacturer's one-sided propaganda.

It would also remind them to keep the relationships with such suppliers to arm's length (not so damn cozy next time). The level of support FROM THE POLICE towards Taser is very unsettling.

Also, a moratorium might inspire the coroners and medical examiners to look at the lack of physical evidence in another way. The influence of Taser on our coroners and medical examiners needs to be examined. Those strings must be cut.

A moratorium would allow time for the independent experts to further review the studies to date to expose additional flaws (such as uselessly small sample size, tasering into the back).

Also, the issue of pain compliance using a device that is about 2000-times more painful than 'intolerably painful' hasn't been discussed yet. Why would the police think that it is reasonable to use a device that is designed to work at electrical-shock levels far beyond pain, for pain compliance? Isn't this a clear violation of CC 269.1?

A moratorium would allow time for the Taser Use Policies, which are presently all over the map, and some are apparently illegal, to be revisited and brought into some sort of alignment with each other, and with the standards of the law. It makes no sense to allow those policies to vary even within one province. Law enforcement becomes random. Even defining active and passive resistance is all over the map.

There are probably many more good reasons for a taser time-out.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Taser's PR man in Ottawa

Old news:

(CP) OTTAWA (14 Dec. 2007) - A Tory election strategist and former adviser to both the prime minister and public safety minister became a lobbyist for Taser International soon after use of its stun guns came under intense scrutiny. Consultant Ken Boessenkool registered the Arizona-based Taser maker as a client on Nov. 28, two weeks after the videotaped death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski unleashed international outrage.

"I'm not authorized to speak on behalf of my client to the media," Boessenkool said when reached Friday. "I'd refer you to the Taser media line." No comment from Taser International was immediately available.

Boessenkool, of the public relations firm Hill & Knowlton, was a senior adviser in opposition to now Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He played key strategic roles in the 2004 and 2006 Conservative election campaigns, and was a policy adviser to Stockwell Day - now public safety minister - when Day was treasurer of Alberta.

Boessenkool lists Day's department and the RCMP as potential points of contact in his filing with the Registrar of Lobbyists.

[LINK]

Taser - used for pain compliance

From the Braidwood Inquiry [LINK]

Mr. Reilly said:

...when it got to be 0.8 micro coloumbs, they reported it as being intolerably painful. ...But now compare these numbers to the Taser. Remember the relevant number I told you on the Taser was 100 micro coloumbs? So you can see that these, the Taser is putting out a stimulus that's like 100 times stronger than what it would take in a laboratory to evoke pain in a subject. So I would have to say that that is very painful. A single Taser pulse is typically about 100 times as painful as a single brief current in human-controlled laboratory experiments. That's for one pulse. What about if you have 19 per second, like a Taser has? That makes the sensation even stronger, because your brain encodes, interprets information about how strong a stimulus is in part by the rate of these nerve impulses reaching the brain. You have more nerve impulses. The brain says that's a stronger stimulus, or it might say that's more painful yet. [LINK]

So, what Reilly is saying is that 'the taser' (X26) is about TWO THOUSAND times more painful than an intolerably-painful electric shock.

There's no reason to disagree with Reilly on this point.


Next, consider that the M26 and X26 tasers are very commonly used for pain compliance by police officers in Canada, the USA, and other countries. But these devices were designed to go well beyond pain to reach muscular lock-up. They are about 2000 times more painful than intolerably painful.


Now, review the Criminal Code of Canada section 269.1:

269.1 (1) Every [Peace Officer] who inflicts [severe pain] on any other person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.

I've rolled up [in square brackets] some definitions for your convenience. Please refer to the complete section [LINK] for details.

Note that the only possible exception is as a 'lawful sanction' which appears to be intended to permit prisons and fines. Sanctions are usually the domain of the courts; and even the courts are not permitted to sentence offenders to a painful electric shock.

It really seems pretty clear to me.


The line in the sand (passed by Parliament) is 'severe' pain. Police are arguably permitted to use pain compliance provided it is kept below 'severe', and is otherwise reasonable under the circumstances.

Taser shocks are so far beyond 'severe' that using a taser for pain compliance is clearly a violation of CC 269.1.

Can someone please fix this very creepy usage-creep?


PS: Following a Taser Use Policy is explicitly not a valid defence for this crime. It says, "It is no defence to a charge under this section that the accused was ordered by a superior or a public authority..."



Reilly's presentation includes ancient data

From the Braidwood Inquiry [LINK]

Mr. Reilly said:

This is a summary of deaths following Taser exposures. There is really no clearinghouse of, you know, data that comes in and where you can have a good representation of this, what are the incidents where people actually die. But there have been some publications in this case. This is the Los Angeles Police Department published some data on where they said they had thousands of incidents and they refer to a small number of deaths, and cardiac-related five deaths. And in most cases the time between the Taser use and the death was some minutes.

Some of these subjects had drug intoxication, others had major pathologies such as kidney, severe kidney problems, or major injuries like gunshot wounds. So you might wonder whether there could be, you know, whether some subset like these five subjects might have died, did they die because of the Taser? And if that were so, you can just see by looking, taking five and divided by whatever "N" is, it's in the thousands, they didn't give the exact number but they said it was thousands, it would be worst a small probability. [LINK]


Did anyone notice the date of this data? See page 9 of his slide package. [LINK]

"Data from ... 1991"

1991 ?!?!?! That's 17 years ago.

This is a classic example of someone using the word 'taser' to mean something different than the X26 taser introduced in 2003, or even the M26 taser introduced in 1999. Even Chairman of Taser Tom Smith has admitted that the earlier tasers were nothing more than ineffective, low-power shock sticks. They have very little in common with the M26 and X26 tasers in use today.

The age of this data makes it perfectly obsolete, totally useless, extremely irrelevant and probably very misleading.


Extract from patrick_reilly.pdf presentation package, page 9:

Sunday, May 25, 2008

So, exactly how bad is the training?

Winnipeg, MB - The Winnipeg Police Service has launched an internal review into the improper conduct of one of its officers who not only loaned a Taser to a doughnut shop employee but also took a photograph of the young man posing with the weapon. ... [LINK]

By the way, there would be no excuse for the Winnipeg Police officials claiming to be unable to trace this incident back to the exact officer in question. Every X26 taser has a built-in data recorder. Officials should be routinely downloading this data to check for such misuse. In this case, they should look for the taser with one or more unexplained activations.

If they can't trace it, then THEY should be punished for having poor processes.

And they should review their taser training because it is obviously defective.

What's different about the X26?

M26 taser - introduced in 1999

The M26 taser, introduced in 1999, used a waveform that was a damped sinewave at 50kHz.

M26 Waveform

The result of using a waveform that is more-or-less symmetrical about the zero amp axis is that the frequency spectrum remains clean and high (50 kHz) and the duration of each pulse remains short. And thus Kroll can claim the chronaxie safety factor as well as the improved safety margin of the 50 kHz high frequency.

M26 Spectrogram (guesstimated)


X26 taser, introduced in 2003

In 2003, Taser introduced the X26. The X26 waveform is similar to the M26 waveform at the outset with the arc phase, but it includes a very significant difference on the right hand side: a long and low monophasic pulse. This is extremely significant.

X26 Waveform

This long and low monophasic (DC) pulse generates (actually is) the low frequency spectral component at the pulse repetition frequency of 19 Hz. Because this 19 Hz component is not a sinewave, it is heavily laced with harmonics of 19 Hz (38 Hz, 57 Hz, and many many more).

X26 Waveform Annotated

So the X26 waveform contains a significant low frequency component. It isn't just short pulse of high frequency anymore as it was with the older M26.

X26 Spectrogram (guesstimated)

And those more-dangerous low frequency components are continuous 100% duty cycle for the entire 5-second cycle.

Conclusions

None of this means that the older M26 taser is without risk.

The primary takeaway points are as follows:
  • The X26 waveform is more-dangerous low frequency at 19 Hz.
  • The X26 waveform is more-dangerous continuous 100% duty cycle for the entire 5-second cycle.
  • Kroll's theory about the chronaxie safety factor probably doesn't apply to the X26.


2003

The X26 was introduced in 2003.

Here is a graph of the taser-associated deaths by month as listed on the Truth...Not Tasers blog. [LINK]

Taser-associated deaths by month

2003 is roughly mid-graph (where the taser-associated death rate begins to shift to a much higher value).

Chronaxie

Because Taser and Kroll continue to talk about the safety factor of short pulses and chronaxie, it is my opinion that they have not made this connection from the 19 Hz low frequency component of the X26 waveform, to it therefore being continuous 100% duty cycle (where chronaxie probably wouldn't apply).

I do not believe that the significance of this observation to the taser-safety issue can be overstated.

And I cannot see any escape from the conclusions.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Taser's Black Swan

Before European explorers reached Australia, a 'Black Swan' was thought to represent something that did not exist; an unreal impossibility which could only exist in one's imagination.

But once the European explorers reached Australia, there they were: black swans.

So then the meaning of Black Swan was shifted to represent something that was previously unimaginable, but was subsequently found to be real. It can also be used in the future sense of something that some people cannot imagine, but others can seen coming.

The taser safety issue is Taser's (and Kroll's) Black Swan.


Black Swan Theory (Nassim Nicholas Taleb) on Wiki [LINK]

Related post on the safety margin of the Space Shuttle [LINK]

Summarizing Chambers

Dr. Chambers (previous post) has pretty much gutted many of Taser's studies. He has revealed them to be statistically incapable of providing any meaningful evidence of safety. He also pointed out that those studies where the taser shock was applied into the back are not applicable to the real world (I've called such examples FAKE and I have repeatedly pointed out that their only purpose is for denominator washing [LINK]).

Given that the authors of these flawed so-called scientific papers are supposed to be highly educated (Ph.D.s and so forth), and the fact that those papers that are actually incapable of proving what they claim to prove due to something as elementary as inadequate sample size, might be interpreted by some critics as indicating deeper problems than just making a simple error. Some critics might point to the financial conflicts of interest, and question the motivations.

Dr. Chambers didn't go quite that far.

Now, on the other hand, we have expert after expert (at the Braidwood Inquiry), and study after study, that has found potential problems with taser safety.

Dr. Chambers pointed out the inherent difficulties of proving that something that does not occur at very high rates. It is like playing darts. One player might throw 20 darts and thereby 'prove' that it is 'impossible' to hit the bulls-eye. Another player might throw one dart and hit the bulls-eye. The first player might protest that he has conducted a larger study and he stands by his findings of impossibility. The only rational response to such a position is "Oh shut up!"

And these are just the issues that have been detected to date.

When you walk past a haystack and easily spot a couple of needles, it's likely that the haystack contains more than just those two needles.


Tasers-R-Safe evidence := Tasers-R-Safe evidence * 0.10 weighting
Safety-Issues evidence := Safety-Issues evidence * 5.00 weighting

Maneuvering for a legal 'soft-landing'?

I've noticed a few very subtle clues that indicate to me that Taser has been carefully laying the groundwork to try to achieve a legal 'soft-landing'.

For example, it is occasionally mentioned that Kroll does not speak for Taser (which almost makes no sense anyway). And then Kroll makes outlandish claims about the level of safety ("Safer than Tylenol" and similar nonsense). It is almost as if they laying a trap that legal attacks will be aimed towards Taser, but based on Kroll's statements. Then Taser will suddenly jump away from Kroll's opinions.

And the exact wording used by Tom Smith when questioned is very well rehearsed. Sometimes his mouth is moving, but nothing meaningful is being emitted. Many examples of very clever non-answers.

Also, I've seen the writings of Taser lawyer Michael Brave. There are some very clever word smithing that can be interpreted one way or the other.

It'll take an attentive lawyer to cut-off their pre-planned legal escapes.

Dr. Chambers gently deflates Taser's studies

Braidwood Inquiry [LINK]

Friday, May 23, 2008 - Morning: Dr. Keith Chambers, epidemiologist

Presentation (.pdf format) [LINK]

Wow.

Slide 11: Small sample sizes as low as 15. N= 66 is very small. Almost no power to detect adverse events, unless very high frequency. Why such small sample sizes? ... Most experiments are a limited number of shots (mostly single shot) and to the back which is not the real world.

Slide 17: There appears to be a serious chance of missing a very significant relative risk due to the use of Tasers given the existing data.

The primary point being made ever-so-gently above is that most of the studies were very badly designed if the goal was to prove safety (sample size too small to prove anything). On the other hand, if the goal was to produce a thick stack of useless and meaningless reports, then those studies were perfectly designed.

Slide 21: Recommendations
  • Guidelines are badly needed. It appears reasonable to make these conservative with some form of use limitation, until appropriate population data comparing harms to benefits is available.
  • Guidelines should be standardized (at the least, provincially).
  • Condition of use and indications for use, by an agency, should require compliance with a standardized reporting mechanism.
  • Reporting should be linked to an outcome database.
  • Stakeholders should be encouraged to get together to find common ground to develop research strategies including the creation of a large, independent multi-centered database (North American wide?) to resolve unanswered questions.

Related news items: [LINK] [LINK] [LINK]

Smith's presentation to Braidwood Inquiry

Imagine if someone had been able to get access to Smith's presentation to the Braidwood Inquiry and swapped out some of the videos just before he presented it. Sneak in the videos of the famous back-talking Utah Speeder and the UCLA student. Replace the video of the mentally-disturbed man wielding the huge butcher knife with a video recreation of the 82-year old man in Kamloops wielding the 3-inch pocket knife.

Smith's video examples are true, but they're very tiny truths wrapped in a much larger truth about routine taser misuse, abuse and overuse which stems from bad training based on misleading information about risk.

Half of Canadians want taser moratorium

...The Angus Reid Strategies poll of 1,006 Canadians across the country found that 49% are in favour of a moratorium on police usage of the controversial stun guns. ...while 43% are opposed to a ban, and 8% were unsure. [LINK]


The justification for a moratorium might be something along the lines that the training that has been provided (directly or indirectly) by the manufacturer has been shown to be defective (trainees were educated that the tasers are essentially perfectly safe cardiac-wise).

Some may suggest that this training error could corrected by way of a simple memo. But it has already been shown that such one-page memos do not work: As the death toll mounted, B.C.'s Police Complaints Commissioner did a review of Taser use and recommended clear limits. People had to be "actively resisting" officers before they could be hit with the electric charge. The [B.C.] Solicitor General's Ministry claimed the new policy was in place. But all it did was send a one-page letter to police chiefs. As the transit police confirmed, the policy was widely and blatantly ignored. [LINK]

It is clear that memos are ineffective, and that the training needs to be completely re-done from scratch (at Taser's expense?), and a moratorium until this is accomplished is perfectly justifiable.

If such a decision has a secondary effect of drawing world-wide attention to the taser safety issue, then that is a very good thing. Since Canadians are generally considered to be nice, quiet and reasonable people, such a taser moratorium anywhere in Canada would certainly catch the attention of decision-makers around the world. Otherwise they may never notice.

And if the tertiary effect of such a decision is to give Taser a good hard smack up-side the head, that's just yet another benefit. It would let them know that we're serious.

The moratorium might also force the police to revisit their other incident deescalation skills. Remember those? Talking, calming, etc.

And it would also remind the police officials to not be so readily accepting of manufacturer's one-sided propaganda. And to keep the relationships with such suppliers to arm's length (not so damn cozy next time).

There are many good reasons for a moratorium. Nothing but good.

But you know that the police will object. They will claim they need the taser. But the police have operated for many decades just fine without tasers. Historically, Canadian police have not been trigger-happy with their guns (they've actually been pretty good). So if any senior police official claims that police will have to shoot hundreds, or even thousands, of people per year without the taser being available, then ask him or her if they're being serious. And if they are being serious, fire them on the spot.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Victoria's taser use 3.8x Toronto's

Toronto: "Last year [2007], according to Toronto Police, local cops deployed Tasers 404 times and fired the weapon 187 times." [LINK]

Victoria: "An analysis of 183 Victoria police incident reports from 2005 to 2007 [assume three years] revealed the device was used in push-stun in 57 per cent of all cases where police activated their Tasers." [LINK] I will assume that Victoria 'deployed' (but may not have fired) their tasers 183 times in three years, or 61 times per year.

Population:
Toronto: 2,500,000 (at least) [LINK]
City of Victoria and Esquimalt: 100,000 (tops) [LINK]

Note - I'm being very generous towards Victoria with the above input data. I went with the lowest population number I could find for Toronto, and the highest stretch for Victoria.

Taser incident rates (includes non-firing incidents):
Toronto, ON: 404/2,500,000 = 16 per 100K population, per year
Victoria, BC: 61/100,000 = 61 per 100K population, per year

Victoria is 3.8 times higher than Toronto.


Let's try it again by police officer count.

Toronto: 5,710 uniformed officers [LINK]
Victoria:
222 police officers [LINK]

Taser incident rates:
Toronto, ON: 404/5710 = 7 per 100 officers, per year
Victoria, BC: (183/3)/222 = 27 per 100 officers, per year

Victoria is 3.8 times higher than Toronto (again).


I guess Victoria really is a very dangerous city, what with all those elderly folks lawn bowling all morning and having tea every afternoon. Those retired folks sure are a rambunctious lot.

"HEY YOU! Drop that bocce ball now."

Trained? Or mis-trained?

(CP) - ...The RCMP training ... tells officers that the weapon is 'not without risk' but does not mention that an irregular heartbeat known as ventricular fibrillation may lead to cardiac arrest and death after a Taser jolt. ... 3,153 RCMP officers in British Columbia are trained [??] to use the weapons. [LINK]

Trained or mis-trained?


"Oh by the way - it can be lethal about one time in 70. Oh, did we forget to mention that?"

'Actually you said it was perfectly safe cardiac-wise. You even shocked us all - in the back.'

"Oh, well that little detail was wrong. So, let's carry on...
"


A perfectly-rational argument can be made that an immediate moratorium is required until all these mis-trained officers are retrained. No - not just a stupid memo that can be easily overlooked, but a completely new training session.

This training should include Use of Force refresher training as included by the City of Ottawa Police Department.

Insurance...

Now that Taser has acknowledged that the risk of death 'for individuals subdued by police using a taser' is 1-in-70, let's examine the future impact of this on their ability to carry insurance.

If someone is killed through negligence, settlements can reach in to the millions of dollars. Legal fees (for both parties) may be in addition to that. Let's not even mention punitive damages. Perhaps in future their legal product warnings may provide a defense, but (in my opinion) there may be some significant liability exposure if the trainees were not properly trained.

Let's run some numbers. This is a wild-ass-guess. Feel free to fill-in your own numbers. Y(L/100km)MV.

Ballpark: $3M * 7/month * 25% = $63M / year

As with many issues relating to liability, it'll probably be their insurer that effectively pulls the plug.

Taser cures cancer - stock plummets

The above post headline is only half-true.

Yesterday (22 May 2008), Taser proudly announced that they had received four major orders.

Just now, their stock [TASR] hit a 52-week low of $7.20, I mean $7.19, sorry make that $7.18. Oh damn, $7.17. As I'm trying to type: now $7.16.

Keep in mind their Annual Meeting is next week. Tee hee hee.


PS: I notice that the Institutional Ownership has dropped from about 60% to 54%. Smart money fleeing; more individual sheepvestors wandering in.

Remember this?

Compare this crap-fest (less than six months ago) to what we are now hearing at the Braidwood Inquiry:

Tasers safer than Tylenol, engineer tells conference

CBC News (Friday, November 30, 2007) - A biomedical engineer with ties to the company that makes Tasers insists that the stun-guns are safer than Tylenol.

"You have Tylenol in your home? As far as an electronic controlled device killing you, this stuff is safer than Tylenol," Dr. Mark Kroll said Thursday in Las Vegas.

Kroll, an adjunct professor at California Polytechnic State University who specializes in electrical currents, made his comments while addressing a group of 360 doctors, police officers, lawyers and medical examiners attending a three-day conference on sudden death and in-custody deaths.

Kroll and some of the other medical specialists and law enforcement officials who spoke at the conference stressed that Tasers do no harm, despite the outcry over the death of Robert Dziekanski, a Polish man who died last month after RCMP officers stunned him with a Taser gun at the Vancouver International Airport.

The federal government is examining the case, as are officials from Poland and the B.C. Coroner's office.

Kroll insisted Tasers are safe under all circumstances, and have never been proven to have directly killed anyone. He said they don't output enough electricity to kill, even if people are stunned several times.

There are several myths surrounding the stun-guns that are not true, Kroll said.

"One myth is that these devices can affect the heart. That myth has almost died out but you still see it once in awhile," he said.

"Another myth is that they're more dangerous [if the person being hit with a Taser is on] drugs, but one of my favourite myths is that these devices can harm pacemakers."

Kroll said even though he consults with Taser International, the maker of Tasers, and sits on the company's advisory board, he said he does not speak for the company.

Others at the sudden death conference, which ends Friday, also had ties to Taser International — three researchers in attendance are consultants with the company, while Taser paid for 10 of its employees to attend.

John Peters, who directs the U.S. Institute for the Prevention of In-Custody Deaths [IPICD], said his organization is not influenced by Taser International, despite the ties.

"We're not funded by Taser, we teach at the Taser academy a couple of times a year, but that's it," he said.

He conceded that his conference did not include the work of researchers who raised safety questions about Tasers.

"Their studies were very small, they were isolated," he said. "I thought it wasn't a good fit."

[LINK]

Kroll's ties to Taser also included stock options potentially worth about a million dollars. He sold about half his TASR holdings on 26 Oct 2007, pocketing $413,500. At the same time, he was sitting as chair of Taser's in-house so-called Medical Advisory Board. [LINK] [LINK]

IPICD is not funded by Taser. But IPICD is sponsored by Taser's lawyer, Micheal Brave. [LINK] [LINK]

Pass it on...

Taser has been seriously damaged over the past few months, especially over the last week or two at the Braidwood Inquiry in Vancouver. Witness after witness is tearing their pro-taser arguments to shreds, and exposing their potentially-massive liability for apparently providing inadequate information and faulty training.

I hope that this modest little blog is contributing. I think that it is.

For example, about two weeks ago I posted my observation that the RCMP in Kamloops were not quite frightened enough by the 82-year-old (3-inch) knife-wielding patient that they couldn't approach him within an arm's length to zap him with a taser, three times, in Drive Mode. This small observation brought into sharp focus the necessity of even using the taser, and it made their official explanation about the perceived risk from this potential slasher look quite phony. [LINK]

So far as I'm aware, I was the first one to point out this discrepancy.

Now, in the Prince George Citizen newspaper, an opinion writer, Paul Willcocks, has made the same point.

Special to The Citizen (21 May 2008) - ...Earlier this month police zapped an 82-year-old man, who needs oxygen just to walk, as he lay in a Kamloops hospital bed. He was delusional because he couldn't catch his breath and refused to drop a knife with a three-inch blade. But he wasn't enough of a danger to prevent an RCMP officer from approaching close enough to press the taser against his stomach and zap him three times. ... [LINK][LINK]

I don't know if he coincidently noticed the same thing, or if the idea came from this blog. I'm not concerned about claiming credit; I just want to make sure that all such observations and information is passed around efficiently so that opportunities to rebut pro-taser arguments or explanations are not missed. That is actually the primary purpose of this blog. I want to provide the analysis (which is quite simple in most cases) which leads to the stupid pro-taser aguments and excuses being shredded instantly.

The way forward is clear - this blog address (www.Excited-Delirium.com, don't forget the dash) needs to be passed around. Also, the other blogs on the same issue (Truth ... Not Tasers [LINK] for example). There is a list of related blogs in the right-hand column.

Everyone concerned about tasers needs to pass these links around to the decision-makers, the reporters, the editors, civic leaders, members of police boards, etc. That is what is most-needed at this critical juncture.

For example, if you read a story about tasers in your local newspaper and they provide the reporter's e-mail address, then send the reporter a quick e-mail with a pointer to this and other blogs. Or write an e-mail to the editor.

If you can find the contact information for your local leaders, make sure they know about this and other blogs. Many of these folks have not been given any information except that originating from Taser. Look at the recent 4-minute discussion at the Victoria Police Board where they passed a new Taser Use Policy that (in my opinion) violates the Criminal Code of Canada. Just a tiny bit of information might make all the difference in such cases. [LINK]

The vast majority of the pro-taser arguments are subtly flawed. You have to be an informed skeptic to see the flaws. That's the primary purpose of this blog.

Pass it on.

And don't forget the dash.

www.Excited-Delirium.com

We are all unique - like snowflakes

There has been a flurry of news from the Braidwood Inquiry in Vancouver over the past day or two about various experts proposing how the safety issue with tasers may be related to heart disease.

For example: Pierre Savard, of Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique, a biomechanical engineer says heart disease increases the probability of death after a taser shock. ... He said his conclusion is in accordance with the product warnings issued by Taser International. Company literature says there is a risk of injury or death due to individual susceptibilities. [LINK]

[First of all, his statement about the product warnings from Taser make me suspect that he may be assisting, intentionally or not, Taser with their Great Escape from Liability. I'm trying to imagine why he would have added that point... As I've already posted, the heart of the liability issue may rest with the training.] [LINK]

Let's examine this blame-shifting argument that some individual susceptibilities are the real issue. Their argument has a subtle but significant flaw, as you will soon see.

First - it appears that everyone is now in agreement that the overall death rate 'for individuals subdued by police using a taser' is 1.4% (or 1-in-70). But when we renormalize this number to estimate the death rate for just the most dangerous full-on X26 tasers across the chest (as opposed to all taser deployments), it becomes something several times larger (getting into the ~5% range). [LINK]

So, what percentage of individuals walking the streets have this alleged individual coronary susceptibility?

It can't be too high a proportion (like 50%), because it would simply become a normal human condition. 20% is probably a non-starter by the same logic. Even 10% would be a stretch for something that is supposed to be individual, unique and not too common.

On the other hand, if this alleged coronary susceptibility condition is assumed to be 5% (for a well-chosen example), then it would mean that the full-on x26 taser across the chest death rate for this group becomes 100% (to match the agreed death rate renormalized for the worst case deployment). So it can only be as low as 5% if they allow that the associated death rate is 100%.

One of my unspoken assumptions [for this rebuttal] is actually their assumption: the taser victims that are most likely to die are those that are most susceptible.

If we ask Taser (or these semi-supportive experts) what they estimate to be the proportion of the population that have these alleged individual susceptibilities, then the answer must be bound to fairly tight limits by common sense on the high side, and by the actual (estimated) death rate (renormalized) on the low side. In fact, there's hardly any room at all in between those limits.

An informed exchange would unfold thus:

Q: "What proportion of the population have these so-called individual susceptibilities?"
A: "Oh - maybe 10 to 20%"
Q: "That seems a bit high for something so rare and so unexpected?"
A: "Okay, I see. How about 2.5%? then? Is that rare enough?"
Q: "So the death rate for full-on X26 taser across the chest of this more-susceptible group would be two deaths for each incident?"
A: "Huh? Two?"
Q: "Well, the renormalized death rate is about 5%. So you'd need two-for-one. Or 200% lethal. Right?"
A: "Ah, I see. How about 5% then?"
Q: "So, 100% lethal for each incident then?"
A: "Oh dear - this is not going well..."
Q: "You didn't really think this argument all the way through, did you?" ...

Overall, their argument is quite weak mathematically.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I wonder...

I wonder if, at some point in the future, the Smith Bros. are going to try to pin the taser safety issue on Kroll.

"He said it was safe."

"It's his fault."

"We rely on expert scientific advice."

Don't fight kids, there will probably be enough liability for everyone.

Track the Training

I wonder if Taser has been planning their attempted escape from their apparent liability for some time? They've certainly been subtly and imperceptibly been shifting their official position over recent years and months. All the while they've been distracting critics with Kroll's mole-role trolls [LINK] claiming basically perfect safety.

But all their noisy non-PR and less-than-Legal propaganda is irrelevant.

What matters is the training. The official Taser-designed training. Training provided by Taser-certified instructors. Wearing nifty black turtleneck Taser uniforms.

The end result is that trainees have been left with the impression that the X26 taser is perfectly safe (except for falling down and banging heads). [LINK] No mention of 1-in-70 death rate. No mention of risk of cardiac issues. They can't erase that negligent omission.

Someone needs to subpoena all the official Taser training material in all its revisions over the years.

Let's renormalize the 1.4%

"1.4 per cent mortality for individuals subdued by police using a taser..." [LINK]

"An analysis of 183 Victoria police incident reports from 2005 to 2007 revealed the device was used in push-stun in 57 per cent of all cases where police activated their tasers." [LINK]

As Taser well knows, using the taser in push-stun (or 'Drive Mode', almost always not into the chest) is vastly safer (with respect to cardiac issues) than shooting the barbs and trailing wires towards the chest. That's why Taser loves to wash out the statistics (denominator washing) by including all deployments in any mode.

So right off the bat, we can make one correction to the overall mortality rate by adjusting out the Drive Mode deployments using the Victoria incident statistics given above.

1.4% times (inverse of (100%-57%)) = 3.3%

In other words, if the overall mortality rate for all individuals 'subdued by police using tasers' in any mode is 1.4%, and if 'Drive Mode' is generally much much safer, and if deploying the barbs and wires only occurs in about 43% of all usages, then the actual mortality rate when using the barbs and wires must be about 3.3%.

And this is being very generous due to lack of detailed data. For example, I suspect that there may be other categories of deployment such that my calculated 43% (from 100% - 57%) is too high. If so, then the calculated 3.3% mortality rate would be that much higher again.

And this is just the first correction.

Another correction might be required for the reported 20% failure rate [LINK] Or the reported 10% ineffective rate. [ibid]

3.3% becomes 4.1% becomes 4.6%.

Now we're getting within sight of the unwashed (no denominator washing) mortality rate for full-on X26 taser deployments where the barbs land on the chest.

And it all roughly matches: [LINK] [LINK] [LINK] [LINK]

In-house so-called police 'experts'

Vancouver Sun (May 21, 2008) - One of the most senior RCMP officers in B.C. is set to make a presentation Thursday at the provincial inquiry into Taser use. Assistant Commissioner Al Macintyre, the officer in Charge of Criminal Operations for the RCMP in B.C., is scheduled to make a presentation in the afternoon along with Insp. Troy Lightfoot and Cpl. Gregg Gillis, an RCMP use-of-force trainer who is considered an expert in the field. ... [LINK]

You have to take these in-house so-called police experts, subtract everything that they have been taught by Taser, or by other so-called taser experts, and then see what's left. For example, if they present themselves as being a 'certified' (by Taser) 'Master Armorer', then that is, in itself, evidence that they have been certifiably brainwashed by Taser; and their testimony should be discounted appropriately.

'Tasers can contribute to a sudden death'

VANCOUVER — There are no obvious features on a body to indicate to a pathologist that a taser has directly caused a death, a former chief coroner told a B.C. public inquiry Wednesday. But Dr. John Butt, who was the former chief coroner in Alberta and the chief medical examiner in Nova Scotia, said he believes tasers can contribute to a sudden death. "There is no specific pathology related to death by taser," Butt told the inquiry... [LINK]

Manitoba set to join upward curve

Truth ... Not Tasers blog [LINK] reports that the Manitoba RCMP are replacing their old (M26?) tasers with newer (X26?) tasers.

There is some circumstantial evidence that the newer X26 may be more dangerous than the older M26. [LINK] Everything that Taser claimed was safe on the M26 (high frequency, short pulses) is the opposite on the X26 (19 Hz low frequency, continuous 100% duty cycle for each 5-second cycle). [LINK]

The RCMP aren't relying just on information provided by the manufacturer are they? Or other experts that got their information from the same place?

Traceable back to Taser

The Province (May 20, 2008) - ...New Westminster police Staff-Sgt. Joe Spindor said later that most Taser training in B.C. is done by the manufacturer or by others like him who have been trained by Taser International. "They stated the taser is safe," said Spindor, explaining he was not told it could cause cardiac arrest. [LINK]

Well, that would make Taser extremely liable, wouldn't it? It's going to be like watching a very slow-motion train wreck for the next year or two. I still can't believe that Smith actually trotted out the 1-in-70 (1.4%) as if it was a good thing.


Spindor said police in B.C. do not yet collect or share data on Taser use or its consequences.

Do not worry sir, we've got 'your six' covered: [LINK] [LINK] [LINK] [...and many more]

The new math...

So, if the taser death rate is 1.4% (1 in 70) [LINK], but tasers are used about one-hundred times as often as police guns ever were [LINK], and if supplying police with tasers doesn't actually reduce police shootings anyway [LINK], then what exactly is the benefit of tasers again?

Net benefit to society: negative.

'1.4%' death rate vs. "Safer than Tylenol"

The Province (May 20, 2008) - ...Dr. Michael Janusz, a heart surgeon at Vancouver General Hospital and UBC told the Braidwood Inquiry into Taser use Tuesday that "Tasers almost certainly can cause cardiac arrest in humans, particularly in people with underlying heart disease." Janusz told retired judge Tom Braidwood that the risk of dying after being Tasered is similar to the chances of dying after major heart surgery. Janusz quoted San Francisco cardiologist Dr. Zian Tseng's findings of about "1.4 per cent mortality for individuals subdued by police using a taser... (which) is similar to the mortality risk of a coronary artery bypass operation." [LINK]

Note - 'subdued by police using a taser' is much different than those FAKE demonstrations and training sessions. The clever propaganda ploy of denominator washing is bypassed by using this inherently real-world definition of the included data.

This "1.4%" is roughly in the same single-digit range as I had guesstimated based on the 2007 British Columbia statistics. I wrote: 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. [LINK]

My estimate quoted just above was for full-on X26 taserings across the chest. The 1.4% risk of death appears to be for something less specific (possibly less dangerous). If anyone has any further details about this 1.4% death rate, please pass along by e-mail (see right hand column) or by comment.

Remember when Kroll stated that the taser was "Safer than Tylenol"? Well, he was wrong for thinking it, and certainly wrong for saying it.

The view from the handbasket, enroute to hell

Newcastle, UK - After killing his girlfriend (100mph police car - no lights, no siren), police use taser on distraught boyfriend. [LINK]

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bad Training = Bad Outcomes

A fellow blogger has nailed the connection between Taser, their blind corporate faith that the tasers are perfectly safe (other than falling down and banging heads and all that nonsense), the official Taser-designed training based on this not-quite-true assumption, the resultant crop of brainwashed taser-trigger-happy police officers, the resultant taser overuse and grotesque abuse, and the subsequent unnecessary suffering and deaths.

Getting It Right blog:
Staff Sgt. Joe Spindor, of the New Westminster Police Department, told the inquiry Tuesday his Taser training is based on what he was taught by Taser International. "The information we receive is that it's safe to use on subjects," Spindor said. He said he hadn't heard of Janusz's opinion on possible cardiac arrest. "No. I've actually heard the opposite from Taser in my instruction."
Thank you, Taser, for all of your helpful “education”; leaving out essential warnings about possible cardiac arrest has likely led to several taser deaths, deaths that could have been prevented if proper education would have been in place. [LINK]

Taser's credibility questioned

Vancouver Sun (May 21, 2008) - ...Dr. Michael Janusz, a heart surgeon at Vancouver General Hospital, ... questioned the credibility of Taser International... The company maintains tasers do not cause cardiac arrest. "This creates a problem with credibility of the company and could lead to difficulty in dealing with the company in matters of safety standards and training requirements," Janusz said. [LINK]

Issues of credibility do provide a simple and rational explanation for the apparent discrepancy between those studies that claim that tasers are safe, and those studies that find the opposite.

Also, keep in mind the very common subtle word-smithing about those studies that Taser claims are "independently funded", when asked about independent studies. [LINK][LINK]

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Epileptic teenager tasered 12 times (July 07)

Corinth City, TX (July 18th, 2007) - Blake Dwyer, then age 16, suffers an epileptic seizure. Police arrive and use taser in 'Drive Mode' at least twelve times. Official reports claim they only used it twice (as if even that would be acceptable), but the matching taser burn marks on Dwyer's body, and the taser's electronic records indicate twelve to fifteen cycles. Corinth city attorney [and full-time jerk] Michael Bucek said, “The only thing I can say is that we believe this is a frivolous lawsuit with no merit.” No lawsuit has been filed (yet). [LINK]

Since there is little indication that the facts are in dispute, except that the official records appear to have been falsified (that will not look good in court), this seems like it would be a very easy case to take all the way to a huge settlement.

And the settlement should be itemized (for example):
  1. Illegal and unnecessary taser deployment $40,000 each times 12 = $480k
  2. Trying to lie about it, false reports, being a jerk: $250k
  3. Non-disclosure agreement: $20k per year (20 years = $400k)
  4. Legal expenses: ~$120k++
~$1.25 million ++ seems perfectly reasonable.

Tasers - seemed like a good idea at the time...

The police are now concerned about tasers...

...The issue [of the public having access to tasers (in the USA)] was also raised during the last national conference of the Fraternal Order of Police, the largest law-enforcement labour union in the United States. "There is an apprehension among some of our members that they could be used as offensive weapons against police officers," said Jim Pasco, the group's Washington-based executive director. "Once you've Tasered a police officer, you can get his gun. Then the problem becomes even worse." [LINK]

No, he missed the point. What if a perpetrator tasers an official or officer to death? Then what? Read this previous post. [LINK]

Next time, think ahead.

Arrest the suspect, not his heart...

Well, tasers may be 'perfectly safe' in the USA (well, other than falling down and banging your head {ROLLS EYES}), but apparently tasers can be lethal in Canada.

A classic example of Y(L/100km)MV I guess?


Cardiologist, heart surgeon tell Taser inquiry weapon can cause cardiac arrest

VANCOUVER — A cardiologist and a heart surgeon both say Tasers are capable of causing cardiac arrest.

University of British Columbia cardiologist Dr. Charles Kerr told a public inquiry into the use of the shock weapons that
there is a potential for cardiac arrest, and that the risk needs to be recognized when Taser weapons are used. But he says that Tasers may be safer than a bullet or other weapons for both the person being arrested and police officers.

['safer than a bullet': What if they're used about 100 times as often as guns ever were?]

Dr. Michael Janusz, a heart surgeon and professor of surgery at UBC, also told the inquiry that Tasers must be regarded as being capable of causing cardiac arrest. Like Kerr, Janusz says the device still appears to be safer for everyone concerned than a gun or a club, but he says police must be aware of its lethal potential and should be trained to deal immediately with a cardiac arrest situation. [LINK]


Taser's Annual Meeting is next week.

Monday, May 19, 2008

2003 - Taser's letter to Brattleboro

An old letter from Taser's spokespuppet Tuttle to the Brattleboro Reformer.

Here are some extracts from the letter:

February 21, 2003

Dear Editor,

I was stunned to see the Brattleboro Reformer's editorial piece by Thom Namaya entitled, "Proceed with Caution" concerning the use of ADVANCED TASER M26s in Brattleboro. ... As the Director of Government Affairs for TASER International, Inc. ...

I have never seen the U.S. Department of Justice report that Mr. Namaya cites that TASERs cause blunt trauma and electrical insult that could lead to death. That's interesting in that the probes from a M26 hit with very little kinetic energy. He cites the report places the impact level equal to the impact of a baseball. The weight of a baseball is 148 grams and is nine inches in circumference. The weight of the one inch long M26 probe is 1.58 grams with a circumference of .23 inches. Although firing at the about the same speed, the weights of the probes versus a baseball are non-comparable. The baseball strikes with 70 times more energy than a M26 probe. The M26 probes have never caused any long-term damage to date in its 40,000 plus uses.

[See update at bottom of post.]

As for electrical output causing death, our M26 output of 0.162 amps is less 1/100th the dangerous level of electrical energy for cardiac tissue. ...

Mr. Namaya states he tried to facilitate training for Brattleboro regarding the de-escalation of crisis situations regarding the emotionally disturbed persons (EDPs) based upon his experience at an inpatient veteran's psychiatric facility. Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT) across America from the police departments of Albuquerque, Akron and Minneapolis to Maryland's Montgomery County Sheriff's Officer taut the M26 as one of the better tools in their tool chest to deal with the emotionally disturbed persons (EDPs). CITs attempt to de-escalate as much as possible the amount of violence that law enforcement confronts with violent EDPs. ...

Sincerely,
Stephen Tuttle
Director of Government Affairs



The whole letter is tedious and rife with propaganda: [LINK]

First, note that Mr. Tuttle clearly states that the M26 current is 0.162 amperes. That's 162 milliamperes. For those that are familiar with electrical safety standards, you'll be laughing at his inane claim that this "...is less 1/100th the dangerous level..."

(So is 16.2 Amps is starting to get dangerous - do ya think? What a moron...)

Secondly, about those barbs... ...follow the link [LINK] (see image below).

Finally, the town name Brattleboro caught my eye. I assume that's the same town that really should have taken Mr. Mamaya's advice. They've been busy since then tasering the innocent, tasering peaceful protesters, and making out settlement checks.


Update 22 Feb 2009: This image is from 2006, so Tuttle and Taser wouldn't have known about this risk of darts entering heads because they obviously don't waste much time writing risk analysis reports that are worth anything.


Video/Audio Recording option

Taser has started to make much of the (extra cost) option to have the taser record video and audio as soon as the safety is flipped from the 'Safe' position to the 'Potentially Lethal' position.

The fact that this recording feature is even offered is really an admission that there is a very serious taser-abuse issue. How many people have been calling for a similar feature on police guns? It is just as simple to adapt a gun to accept a clip-on camera module as it would have been for the taser. In fact, the EMI environment surrounding a taser probably makes it more difficult to achieve clean operation of camera electronics.

Police boards can certainly consider this option if they wish, but all that it will accomplish in the mid-term is to clog-up YouTube with even more grotesque videos.

The city of Ottawa is on the right track with their Use of Force refresher training.

Supposed symptoms

Supposed symptoms of being in a state of excited delirium:
  • bizarre and/or aggressive behavior
  • shouting
  • paranoia
  • panic
  • violence toward others
  • unexpected physical strength
How any perfectly-reasonable person might react while being threatened with a taser by an unthinking, overly-aggressive, civil-rights-violating officer(*):
  • bizarre and/or aggressive behavior
  • shouting
  • paranoia
  • panic
  • violence toward others
  • unexpected physical strength

(* Think that will never happen? Try YouTube and search for 'taser'. Or review more of this blog for incidents and settlements.)

Editorials

Edmonton Sun, May 19, 2008 - "To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail" - Mark Twain. To someone with a taser, everyone looks like Frankenstein's monster, in need of a jolt. ...in reality, people do die after a taser has been used on them. ... [LINK]

Halifax Chronicle-Herald, May 18, 2008 - ... With serious questions about safety, and inconsistencies in police training and policies, we urge the taser be holstered. [LINK]


Virtually all of the editorials in Canadian newspapers are on-side with taser critics.


No such medical term

...University of B.C. psychiatrist Dr. Joseph Noone, who deals daily with extremely agitated patients, told the commission there is no such medical term as "excited delirium." It's a term used by police officers to describe someone who is in an agitated and violent state, usually cocaine-induced, and who exhibits abnormal strength and excessive body heat. "It's basically an excuse for everything that happens and an excuse to blame it on the person who dies and not on the person [arresting him]," he said. "It provides a convenient post-mortem explanation for in-custody deaths where physical and mechanical restraints and conducted-energy weapons were employed." [LINK]


Remember - it was Taser that sent out brochures to every medical examiner and coroner in the land promoting 'Excited Delirium' as an explanation for taser-associated deaths.

Remember - Taser's own lawyer Michael Brave has registered the domain name ExcitedDelirium.com [no dash] and redirected all traffic to IPICD, a tiny privately-held company (pretending to be an 'Institute...') with multiple ties to Taser.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Falling Down and Alcohol Withdrawal

It used to be that Taser always tried to pin the blame on Excited Delirium. But now they are spreading things out a bit. Lately I've read about them trying to blame Falling Down and Alcohol Withdrawal. So I've started two more blogs to address those specific topics.

Taser's "Falling Down" [LINK]

Alcohol Withdrawal [LINK]

Those will probably be the first and last posts to those blogs.


Hmmm... Now that I think of it, I had better go grab the following blog addresses too.

Witch! Witch! Witch!

It's the goblins that did it

Ah, he was gonna die anyway

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Brattleboro cuts another cheque

Brattleboro, VT — A former Brattleboro man who said police violated his civil rights when officers knocked down his door, pulled him out of his hot tub and shocked him with taser weapons has settled his suit against the town for $37,500. [LINK]

Well, at least such mindless, inexcusable, grotesque taser abuse would never happen here in Canada, right?

Right... [LINK][LINK] (just one example)

Victoria Police Taser Policy fails the sanity check

I recently posted [LINK] about how the Victoria Police Board passed an amended Taser Use Policy that apparently includes (or allows) defining 'active resistance' as any situation where a subject is refusing to comply with demands, including turning away or saying 'No.'

It's my firm belief that tasering someone for refusing to comply with demands, or for turning away, or for saying "No", is not only a criminal act (CC 269.1), it would also be EVIL.

If such non-violent acts of resistance are illegal, then simply add those charges to the list. But non-compliance doesn't excuse applying on-the-spot punishment or using severe pain to induce compliance.

Police Boards that accept such bad advice from their taser-happy brainwashed senior officers should be held accountable.