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, August 30, 2008

"...saved suicidal (drunk) man's life..."

Burnaby (BC, natch) RCMP (natch) claim that their handy-dandy taser saved a man's life. The 19-year old guy was reportedly drunk and holding a knife to his own throat. Since he wouldn't respond to police negotiations (perhaps due to being drunk), they tasered him and took him into custody. Reportedly the subject in this incident did not die from being tasered (which is always a nice outcome). [LINK]

Ah those wild and crazy drunks in Burnaby, running around town threatening to cut their own throats...

Anyway, it seems a bit funny that the drunk man's sister (who was NOT armed with a taser) somehow had been able to, single-handed, get the armed and drunk brother all the way from the kitchen to the outdoors, and lock the door, before calling the police.


Okay - let's be generous - I say that we grant this touching tale of taser technique a 5% credit for a life saved. The 5% is because that's about the chances that this drunk guy would have actually, and would have actually managed to, fatally cut his own throat.


And why is the BC RCMP providing such touching tales on behalf of Taser? Are they a branch of the Taser PR department? Geesh, they go all silent and cranky when people die after being tasered, but they get all proud and 'press-releasey' if they think they've saved one with a taser.

Get a room folks.

Friday, August 29, 2008

6 taser shocks "may have contributed to his death"

"may"? [LINK]

How could it even be 'may have been a contributing factor' with the amazingly long 1-in-10,000,000 odds of death calculated by Webster et al and proudly promoted by Taser?

Ah, unless ...maybe, perhaps, possibly... those claimed odds are off by several orders of magnitude.

The fundamental issue...

.
"A vastly understated risk of death."



I used these words in a recent post and it struck me that they might just be the best description of the fundamental issue. And this fundamental mistake leads to all that is bad about the taser (beliefs, 'faith', policy, training, overuse, misuse, and abuse).

If everyone was aware that the risk of death might actually be as much as four or five orders of magnitude higher than has been claimed, then perhaps the police wouldn't be trained to (mis-)use the taser to, for example, encourage a DUI suspect to produce their hands for cuffing. [LINK]


We've reached a point where some jurisdictions are suddenly surprised to see their second mysterious taser-associated death. [LINK]

Old rule-of-thumb: "Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action."

So I guess we'll have to wait until Round 3 before the less sensitive observers figure it out.

Three headlines...

1. Taser risks can be managed - police report [LINK NZ]
2. Man Dies After Police Taser [LINK]
3. Put tasers away until study is released, professor tells cops [LINK]

The 2nd headline is about yet-another young man, not really a threat to the police, that was tasered twice, 'soon' became unresponsive, and then died a bit later.

Based on the news report, this tragic incident covers the usual topics of taser overuse and the vastly-understated risk of death.

And remember, the latter is the primary cause of the former - so it is doubly to blame.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Rockford Files

(Rockford, Illinois) The fact that two Rockford residents have died in the last two months when tasers have been used is raising some questions. Rockford Police say there’s no clear indication that Sunday’s death was caused by the use of a taser. [LINK]


For purposes of comparison, does anyone have a count on the number of Tylenol-related deaths in Rockford, Illinois in the past two months? What's that? 'None' you say? Zero?

Well - I guess that tasers must be used a lot more often than Tylenol in Rockford, Illinois.

(Deep sarcasm indicated by blue text colour)


Tasers - "Safer than Tylenol" my ass.

(BS indicated by poo-poo brown text colour)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tasers are what's 'off the rails'

Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Julian Fantino says the taser debate "...has gone off the rails." [LINK]

No.

What's off the rails is the abuse, misuse and overuse of tasers. Tasering fare dodgers in Vancouver. Tasering old men in their hospital bed. Tasering exhausted immigrants. Tasering children in their bedroom. Tasering minorities after (reportedly) picking a fight with them.

I don't need to provide links - if you've been paying the slightest bit of attention then you know these examples (Canadian examples, each and every one) off by heart.

What's off the rails is the degree of influence that Taser exerts in Canada. Holding hands with Toronto Police officials at a dog & pony show. Sitting comfy beside CPRC in front of SECU. Paying coroners travel expenses. Making deals with police officers in positions of influence.

Ditto

What's off the rails is the unwarranted faith some people have in tasers, and (worse yet) Taser. See De-spinning the Spin at the top of the right-hand column. Look up Bernie Kerik and note that he was a Taser Director during a critical period.


Let me put a challenge to you:

What is your estimation of the risk of death associated with taser use once the X26 darts land on the chest and the victim is exposed to the X26's waveform current of 150 mA (RMS) of 19 Hz waveform at continuous 100% duty cycle?

Taser points to studies that foolishly 'calculated' 1-in-10 million. Taser claims the taser is "Safer than Tylenol". Do you think that they're correct?

But what if they're wrong (read it all)?


And don't miss the subtle point about karma: [LINK] and [LINK].


Debate 'off the rails'... {ROLLS-EYES} We're just getting started.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Are you smarter than a 5th grader?

WPXI.com - Allegheny County officials are forming a committee to investigate the physical effects of being stunned. District Attorney Stephen Zappala said the group will include medical professionals and law enforcement personnel. The group is being formed after two recent police Taser incidents in the Pittsburgh area.

[I guess they are starting to doubt Taser's spin and propaganda.]

Last week, Jason Schmidt, 29, was hospitalized after police used a Taser on him. Officials were called to a house on Observatory Hill on Friday, where they said Schmidt was acting erratically and was having convulsions. It took four stuns by two officers to subdue him, police said. Schmidt is currently in intensive care at Allegheny General Hospital.

Earlier this month, police in Swissvale stunned Andre Thomas, 37, who later died. On Monday night, more than 60 people attended a meeting focusing on Thomas' death. Two autopsies on the body were inconclusive. The medical examiner is waiting for the results of toxicology tests. Thomas' family said they believe police used excessive force. [LINK]


So Allegheny County's committee is going to figure it all out are they?


Here is my suggestion for a starting point (just a sanity check):

You now have the beginings of a data set; it might not yet be strictly statistically significant, but it might still be common-sense indicative. You have one taser-associated death and another taser victim in the ICU. Let's call this numerator 1.5 to split the difference. It's within a heartbeat of being either 1 or 2, so 1.5 is perfectly reasonable for this type of rough estimate.

Next, estimate the approximate number of taser deployments over some reasonable period of time. To be fair, it doesn't have to be just the past month. Take the past several months (this is being generous to the pro-taser side). You can decide how many months to include: 6, 8, or even 12. The exact number of months to include is not very critical since we're just trying to establish a rough order of magnitude (ROM) estimate of the risk of death from a taser deployment.

Now, remove from the denominator all the Touch-Torture (non-dart) mode deployments unless they were fired directly into the subject's chest (a la Pikes). Remove any misses. Remove any other denominator washing (for example, don't include any taser training hits to the back). Don't include any 'displays' of the taser spark. You want to denominator to be a reasonable reflection of real taser deployments that actually had darts on the chest and thereby should be included in the risk calculation.

Finally, divide the numerator (1.5) by the denominator (more or less about 100?).


So, is this taser risk of death ratio close to 1-in-10 million ?

Does it seem to be "safer than Tylenol" ?

These are Taser's claims (or those of their spokes-puppets or pro-taser minions).


Or is your result more like a single digit percentage result (within sight of 5%)?


To obtain Webster's 1-in-10 million number, you would have had to taser every living soul in Allegheny County on a weekly basis for several months and still have had just two casualties. Not likely.


So, what are your conclusions?

Taser spin: the weapon versus the shocks it emits

CJAD Radio on-line: Taser spokespuppet Stephen Tuttle is also anxious to see the CPRC study but stands by the weapon, adding no medical examiner has ever attributed any stun gun death to the weapon itself. [LINK]


Nice one Steve. The weapon isn't to blame. Just the shocks that it emits.


De-spin time:

Three prominent coroners have found that...
"Pikes died of cardiac arrest caused by the taser shocks..." [LINK]

So Steve, not the weapon itself, but just the electric shocks that it emits?


What are we left with? The in-house spokespuppet for Taser making a meaningless distinction between the weapon and the shock that it emits? This amounts to nothing more than a damn lie (and not even a good one unless the audience is so ill-informed as to buy it).


Attention decision-makers of Canada - what does Taser have to do before you speak out against them? How low can they go before you yank their chain?

Attention CACP - Why do you support companies that use such evil spin? Have you no morals?

A tool unlike any other

Ontario's provincial police commissioner Julian Fantino says "the taser is a tool like any other." [LINK]

Wrong. Dead wrong.

The difference between the taser and other policing tools is that the taser is surrounded by claims of essentially perfect safety with respect to internal risk factors (cardiac effects or similar). And the field results do not support these claims (too many mysterious deaths, some backed-up with legal findings).

I can think of no other police tool where the claims are so at odds with the reality (when viewed from the point of view of claimed perfection - see this [LINK] or you may not understand).

Guns, batons, fists, pepper-spray - all of these have a very obvious and predictable worst-case outcome. The risks are well understood. The taser is thought to be safe, but has proven to be what some have termed a street level death lottery.

The training and policies, both under Taser's influence, reflect this level of claimed safety (except that the trainees are never shot in the chest, because Taser wants them in the denominator rather than the numerator of the gross, washed-out, risk ratio).

This propaganda-based training leads to police officers with an incorrect view of the risk.

And this leads directly to abuse, misuse and overuse.

And that's the problem.

And that's the difference.

34 and Ho prove almost nothing

A recent Taser press release trumpets another pro-taser paper authored by Jeffrey Ho et al.

Someone should correlate the various studies' findings with the lists of authors. For some strange reason, there appears to be a correlation going on in that regard.

In addition to the known issues with Dr. Ho's intimate and loving relationship with Taser [LINK], there is also the minor issue that the study was not double-blind, not even single-blind.

And I wonder if they bothered to monitor the waveform current in their experiment to ensure it was in the same range as the field deployments. If they don't have records of the waveform current, then the results may be meaningless.

And what about the other details? Do people in the street get to lay-down on a conductive metal (?) table before being tasered?

But more importantly, even in the best case (assuming we trust this study with the basics, which we don't), the relatively low number of subjects (stated as just 34) merely sets an upper bound on the risk which may not be incompatible with a low to moderate risk.

In other words, if you're trying to prove that something is safe to the tune of 1-in-10 million, or "safer than Tylenol", you're going to have to taser a larger number of folks than just 34.

Oh - wait - that experiment has already been done on the street. And we do have clear-cut cases of 'taser shocks causing cardiac arrest' (and death). And examples of healthy and drug-free young men dying of cardiac arrest just after being shocked. And other legal cases where the taser affected blood pH and lead to death.

So, an experiment led by a Taser-insider, using just 34 subject, doesn't really prove anything except that which we mostly all agree on. Taser shocks are not very high risk. But they might still be low to moderate risk.

Exactly as evidenced by the field results.

34 subject cannot disprove a 5% risk (for example) to any degree of statistical certainty.

I wonder why they chose a sample size of just 34 ??? LOL. Maybe they actually know the final answer and they wanted to avoid stumbling across it.

(Disclaimer - I've only read the abstract.)

DRDC pulls plug on non peer reviewed CPRC taser "study"

This is a huge slap up-side-the-head for CPRC.


A much-anticipated interim report on the use of tasers in law enforcement that was to be presented Monday afternoon at the annual meeting of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) in Montreal has been canceled.

The Canadian Police Research Centre (CPRC) was commissioned by the CACP to conduct a review of tasers and their misuse. Steve Palmer, Executive Director of the CPRC, was expected to present an interim briefing to the CACP on Monday afternoon. However, over the weekend, officials decided to cancel the briefing.

The CPRC operates under the banner of Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC), a special operating agency of the Ministry of National Defence. "It was decided it would be more valuable to have the study stand up to the rigours of peer review before being released," said a spokesperson for DRDC.

From The [Montreal] Gazette (26 August 2008) [LINK]


Peer Review? Do we need Peer Review?


The CPRC has had their chain yanked by the (real) scientists at DRDC. CPRC will now have a very difficult time slipping any psuedo-science crap past these hardened, seen-it-all DRDC scientists. And it is extremely likely that these scientist reviewers will be very aware of the controversial issues surrounding tasers.

I expect that they'll go through an entire box of red pens marking up the interim report.

The final report is likely to be delayed, significantly thinner, and much less confident in the support for Taser's claims of safety.

Well done DRDC.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The invisible arrow of death

"...an Italian immigrant died in police custody two days after he was shocked four times with a stun gun. ...the Crown says there is nothing in the autopsy report to indicate Castagnetta's death was caused directly by the stun gun." [LINK]

Ah, what would the coroner be looking for? Can anyone explain that?

Assuming for the moment that the taser can caused fatal cardiac effects, then what postmortem signs would be available for discovery?

Imagine that the taser leaves no clues, but actually is lethal. What then? Think it through.


(This question for the general case remains open even if Castagnetta's death can be fully attributed to other causes. And it is a very important question.)

'Police taser prehistoric remains'

Headline:
CRIME: Richland police taser Kennewick man...

(If you don't get it, then click on the above embedded link.)


The real news is here: [LINK]

"Tasers save money" - LOL

TRIBUNE-REVIEW (Saturday, August 23, 2008) - A North Braddock man shocked awake while sleeping on his couch by police officers using a taser gun has reached a settlement Friday... North Braddock officials agreed to pay Shawn Hicks...

... $100,000.

Hicks said he came home around 2 a.m. on July 28, 2007, and fell asleep in the living room of
his Stokes Avenue home. Less than an hour later, according to the lawsuit, Officers Gerald Kraly and Lukas Lauricia came inside the house and repeatedly shocked Hicks with the taser, even after verifying his address on his driver's license. ... [LINK]

Attorney Paul Krepps, who represented North Braddock, said, "The defendants are not admitting any wrongdoing."


Well, the $100k check is more than sufficient admission in itself. But thanks for the amusing attempt at spin.

So what exactly goes on during taser training? Are the trainees' brains extracted at the start of the taser training session, or towards the end?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The latest news from Digby

Latest news on that ugly incident in Digby, Nova Scotia (previous posts [LINK] and [LINK]).

CBC News - The RCMP have charged a member of the Halifax Regional Police with causing a disturbance following allegations that a group of off-duty police officers got into a fight with two black men after uttering racial slurs at them. Const. Adam Stewart Whynott, 26, of Halifax, was charged Friday following an RCMP investigation into the June 22 incident in Digby, in western Nova Scotia.

RCMP have also charged one of the two black men involved in the fight in Digby. William Edward Drummond, 20, is charged with causing
[???] a disturbance and resisting a peace officer [perhaps lawfully?]. Both men are scheduled to appear in provincial court in Digby on Sept. 22. During the fight, one off-duty police officer was knocked unconscious and one of the black men was shocked with a [multiple?] stun gun(s?). ... [LINK]


If the officer is found guilty, then it will be interesting to see if he is fired, disciplined, or nothing. A good ethics test for the HRM police department.

And what about that reported 2nd taser ?? [LINK] [Source]

Friday, August 22, 2008

Does this count as lying?

Taser has settled at least 10, or about 19 percent, of the 52 product-liability cases it claims to have won through a court dismissal or judgment in its favor. ... Lawyers for alleged Taser victims say the company overstates its legal scorecard to discourage lawsuits and boost its stock price. ... Taser doesn't identify these cases as settlements in SEC filings and instead describes individual settled cases in these reports as 'dismissed with prejudice'. [LINK]

I'm not saying that these are damn lies. That's for you to decide.

Blog policies

Due to some recent complaints, I am going to reiterate my policies regarding this blog. Some of these policies have already been explicitly mentioned, and the others I would have thought would be common sense.

Comments: I'm not going to make a habit of engaging in comment wars. The reason for this is that the volume of illogical concepts and ideas amongst untrained thinkers is approximately infinite. I don't have unlimited time. And the limited time that I do have to dedicate to this important social issue is better used providing interesting references and shredding the mindless pro-taser arguments, not arguing one-on-one with people that haven't even taken the time to think the subject through. Comments have been restricted to Blog Members only.

Different Points of View: This blog provides a very small counter-balance to Taser's propaganda machine (full-time staff, lawyers, paid-for experts, minions and moles). Their side of these arguments have all the exposure they need. I present their points one-by-one (I even quote their points verbatim for gosh sakes) and then I do my best to systematically shred them. Anyone wishing to air their pro-taser views is perfectly free to start their own blog.

Who am I?: My identity is of no concern. My arguments are not based on Appeal to Authority pointing to my qualifications. All my arguments work independent of my identity. And if you're still not convinced, then Google the following search terms: Pamela Schreiner Taser I have no way of knowing if these accusations are true or not, but with former members of the Taser Board of Directors now facing 142 years in prison, I don't want to bother getting up close and personal with these folks. I'm only here to present some commentary and shred a few pro-taser arguments along the way.

I hope that this clarifies things for those that wouldn't otherwise understand.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

'High'? Nobody said anything about 'high'.

(AP) - A study released in June by the National Institute of Justice didn't find any "conclusive medical evidence" that exposure to so-called conducted energy devices, including tasers, carries a high risk of serious injury or death. [LINK]


Read that extract very carefully and you will realize that the NIJ report is perfectly consistent with a low to moderate (for example 5%) risk of death once the X26 taser darts land on the victim's chest (after all the denominator washing is excluded).

I firmly agree that there is no evidence of a high risk of death (that's duh-obvious). A high risk of death (say 60% for example) is simply not supported by the facts. But a low to moderate risk (in the 5% range) certainly is compatible with the facts. If Taser will admit to a risk of death in the 5% range (for darts on chest, once all the denominator washing is removed), then I'll accept that.

And given the reality that the risk is non-zero, then we shouldn't be surprised when the Taser is occasionally found to be The Cause of Death. And those "few deaths" will still be more than sufficient to bankrupt Taser.

Although 5% (for example) is a long way from 100% (twenty times better), 5% is actually infinitely larger than 0%.

Low to moderate is not zero.

And nobody ever said anything about 'high'.

IPICD, LAAW, Micheal Brave & "Excited Delirium"

IPICD is sponsored by LAAW.
LAAW is basically lawyer Micheal Brave.
Mr. Brave has registered at least two Internet domain names with 'excited delirium' in the URL.
These domain names are redirected to point to IPICD.

And thus the circle is complete:

...IPICD <> LAAW = lawyer Brave <> "Excited Delirium" URLs <> IPICD...


So, what does this have to do with Taser?

Taser's chief litigation lawyer is (or was?) a certain lawyer named Mr. Micheal Brave, Esq. etc.


You're either in on it, or you're being played like a trumpet.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Every now and then, something hilarious...

Mark 'Safer than Tylenol' Kroll is a Taser director and general pro-taser spokespuppet. I guess when he drones on endlessly about how perfectly safe tasers are, the word Droll enters the listeners' minds and this funny alternative surname ends up in articles.

[So as not to be too convenient for those that might want to correct this funny error, a link is not provided.]

Winnipeg police want to control the video

Winnipeg police reportedly tasered two people today in separate incidents. See the story at the Winnipeg Free Press: [LINK]

And as we know (sic), if it weren't for the blessed (sic) taser, they would have been forced to shoot (sic) these two people dead - thereby contributing, in one day, about 15% of the annual death toll from police shootings for the entire fricken' country. Of course, perhaps you don't believe the lying taser fan-boys when they claim that the taser is just a safer alternative for the gun and thereby saves lives.


And the icing on the cake:

Paul St. Laurent showed up on the scene with a camera. He took some pictures of one of the men that witnesses said had been tasered while he was still lying on the ground. St. Laurent said. "I was close to the scene, but I was staying back and not getting in the way." But police detained him, threw him into the back of a cruiser with handcuffs on and took the memory card out of the camera. "For taking a simple picture I got thrown into the cruiser."

False arrest?

Police later burst into a local store, roughed-up the owner, and seized a security camera video tape that may have captured the taser incident. The previous sentence is not true (it's sarcasm), but it makes about as much sense as the news report.

Does St. Laurent need to sue to get his memory card back (a la the Dziekanski incident)?


So WTF is going on in Winnipeg?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cannibalism is right out too...

Orange County Coppers have announced that they will no longer taser prisoners and suspects that are already handcuffed or restrained (for example: firmly strapped to a restraint chair). Well, except they might still taser such already-restrained prisoners whenever they feel that there is a need to do so. But the unnecessary taserings of already-restrained prisoners will stop. [LINK]


Ah...
...well...
...that's nice then.

Taser-free schools in Uniontown, PA

Uniontown (Pennsylvania) Area School Board has decided to not bother with tasers. This decision was driven by the citizens and parents. An excellent decision. [LINK]

Since the stated motivation for the tasers was to protect the children from 'outside threats', then perhaps the schools should be built with nests of large caliber machine guns at each outside corner of the building. What could possibly go wrong with that sort of proactive approach to protecting the children?


Update:

Here is an example of the typical 'outside threat' (sic) in the real world of tasers in schools.

Elkhart, IN — Police say they were forced to use a taser to control a student during a fight at school. That fight broke out between two teenagers at Elkhart Central High School. Police say they had a hard time getting the 14-year-old student under control Friday, especially because of his size — he's almost 12 feet tall and weighs 460 pounds. The taser helped stop the student from fighting with the other student and officers. ... [LINK]

[Some numerical values may have been doubled for humorous effect.]


Now replay in your mind the same news story with the Elkhart student dying from some unknown cause directly after being tasered. Imagine a long-delayed autopsy report as they try to figure it out. Imagine the controversy. Lucky break that this outcome didn't happen.

Uniontown parents made the correct call.


'Outside threat' my ass.

TASR stock skyrockets on GE buy-out rumour

This is great news. GE has very deep pockets (to pay for all the lawsuits - pending and future).

Now why they would get involved is a mystery.

Comment moderation enabled

I've been forced to enable comment moderation. In other words, all comments must be approved before they will appear on this blog.

Extreme serial commenter 'D' is banned. This is entirely an issue of 'D' wasting my time, not censorship. I have left 'D's existing comments in place except for the latest batch of about ten. I have better things to do than spend my time cleaning up after a seagull ('D' takes maybe ten minutes to dump a load of silly comments onto this blog, and then I have to spend an hour shredded them one-by-one).

'D', if you need a forum to air your many self-contradictory views, then please feel free to start your own blog. It's a free country, but please get your own soapbox.

Offering an olive branch in Olive Branch - NOT!

And here's to you, Mrs. Robinson...


There are several alternate possibilities, so I won't speculate why Officer Mark Maldonado was discovered in Officer Sherita Robinson's house when the almost ex-husband Mr. Vetan Robinson stopped by to pick-up the children (for the weekend?). And equally mysterious is why almost ex-husband Mr. Robinson ended up being zapped with a police taser.

An internal investigation is underway.

See [LINK] and [LINK] for absolutely none of the details.

Jerry Springer and John Langley have been notified.


...We'd like to know a little bit about you for our files ... Koo-koo-ka-choo...

Orange County Coppers

Automobile accident. Alleged brutal and violent tasering of one of the people involved in the accident. Alleged victim is a man named Bush (uh oh...). Lawsuit. [LINK]


Taser International Inc.
Our products help to make the world more insane everyday
(allegedly)

Canadians speak...

The Globe & Mail wrote an editorial titled More than a perception [LINK] criticizing the fact that the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police is accepting $25,000 in sponsorshit money from Taser 'Failure to Warn' International.

What next? Bernie Kerik (*) as the keynote speaker?

(* former rough-and-tumble Taser Director, currently facing 142 years in prison [LINK])

Attached to the on-line article are 30 comments [LINK] from Canadians all across Canada.

I note with some satisfaction that all seem to agree that there are significant and serious taser and associated ethical issues that must be addressed. There are none of the extreme rightwing law-and-order types spouting vile and presenting tattered pro-taser arguments. Which is nice.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I can see ... t h e ... f u t u r e ...

(11 August 2008) My comment, attached to this blog, regarding the impact of ubiquitous cellphone video capability:

"...we're just transitioning into the stage where the first response is official silence until the videos surface or not." [LINK]


(17 August 2008) Canadian Press story quoting RCMP Spokesman Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre (who was accused of passing on incorrect info shortly after the Dziekanski incident):

"...in the future, I will consider saying that we have no comment, there's an ongoing investigation, and weather the storm of media criticism that we are not forthcoming." [LINK]


Bingo.

Stun guns in criminal's hands...

(Edmonton Sun) Calgary - Police are looking for two men who launched an unprovoked attack on a homeless man, hitting him across the head and repeatedly jolting him with a stun gun before swiping his cellphone and bike. Const. Gord Denison said ..."This is fairly unusual in Calgary. But they're a weapon and no different than a knife or any other weapon..." [LINK]

Well no different except for one thing: Officially (still?), they are 'incapable' (sic) of killing. Keep that in mind in the event that one day an officer is killed in the line of duty by multiple stun gun hits directly to the chest.

See 'Gedanken' [LINK] and 'Non-armed robbery' [LINK] (*).

Perhaps a more reasonable approach to the official level of safety would be in order so that future murder charges against cop-killers are not short-circuited by previous claims of cardiac safety.


And the police should add a conductive layer of tin-foil or aluminum screen [LINK] to their standard issue bullet-proof vests to protect themselves from death at the hands of criminals (non-)armed (*) with 'perfectly-safe' non- or less-lethal murderous weapons.

Snip, snip, snip...

Never lost a legal case...

They were hit with a $6.2M judgment based on a very simple and common sense argument about well-known blood pH causes and effects. There does not appear to be much grounds for a successful appeal.


Why, it t'was 'Excited Delirium' m'Lord...

Too many non-excited, non-delirious taser-associated deaths to hold water.


Never been shown to have caused a death...

Now, we have three 'prominent' coroners finding that "Pikes died of cardiac arrest caused by the taser shocks..." [LINK] A clear-cut case with actual findings released (as opposed to the many strangely-delayed autopsy reports). Note that there are many other disturbing angles (race, abuse, torture, cover-ups) to this incident.


So, what will be their next excuse?

Your honor, we feel that the subject was beamed aboard an orbiting spaceship of unknown alien origin, and simultaneously replaced with an otherwise identical - but sadly non-functional - replacement at the exact instant of his supposed death - all of which just happened to coincide in time with the taser deployment.


It's one thing to have a multi-leg defense strategy. But it's another thing entirely to stand on that multi-leg strategy and stick your head into a fricken' noose. Stupid is as Stoopid does.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The RCMP very concerned about the RCMP

Canadian Press - ...Email documents, released to The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act, showed great concern from Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day's office down to the RCMP's British Columbia media relations office over the public's perception about the death of Robert Dziekanski. ... [LINK]

Great concern for themselves. Apparently no mention of concern about the surprisingly low actual level of safety of the taser (supposedly incapable of causing death from internal risk factors such as cardiac effects). Although several percent (after denominator washing excluded) sounds low, it is many many orders of magnitude above Webster's '1-in-10 million'.

One idiot wrote to the RCMP expressing their support (not that there's anything wrong with that) and expressing their inexplicable hope that drugs might have caused Dziekanski's death. Drugs in his system? After spending the better part of two days in airports and crossing borders, customs inspections, baggage x-rays, airport security? Wishful thinking that. Of course it is just barely possible, but the odds are extremely long.

Of course, ...No drugs or alcohol were found in Dziekanski's body, but the cause of death still hasn't been released.


Although I've not seen any reports with this level of detail, I'm willing to bet that at least one of the taser darts landed on his chest somewhere close to his heart. If anyone has any contrary information, then please pass it along.

Coroners and/or Medical Examiners involved in the Dziekanski case might wish to review this recent case: Three coroners agreed that "Pikes died of cardiac arrest caused by the taser shocks..." [LINK]

In other words, the taser isn't quite as safe as Taser thinks (correction: says) it is.

Attn: Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police

At your upcoming meeting:

Discuss the Criminal Code of Canada s. 269.1 (Torture) [LINK] and how the taser fits into that law (especially when used in Touch-Torture mode).

Don't forget that the x26 taser waveform is designed to incapacitate, and thus is about 2000 times above the level required to induce intolerable pain. [LINK] In other words, the Touch-Torture mode is so poorly designed that it is clearly above and beyond reasonable by any standard.

Discuss the fact that Tasers are 'Prohibited Firearms' in Canada and have been since 1998. [LINK] Did we forget? Doh! Do your policies and practices address all of the associated requirements? Oops!

Discuss 'firearms' in relation to the common use of the taser in Touch-Torture mode and the Criminal Code of Canada s. 87.(1) (Pointing a Firearm). [LINK] You have to point the taser (a firearm) in order to use it in Touch-Torture mode. And yes, the law includes 'loaded or not'.

Discuss the evil and unlawful Brotherhood (or Code) of Silence. Do your forces have an explicit policy regarding this sort of passive cover-up? I'm not saying it's a huge problem in Canada, but do you have a policy? [LINK] And who the hell had that reported 2nd taser in Digby?

Discuss amongst yourselves and agree on the simplest possible explanation for the following fact: Three coroners agreed that "Pikes died of cardiac arrest caused by the taser shocks..." [LINK] If you still believe Taser's world-view after this sort of taser-caused death, what next? Will you all stand around, holding hands, and sing their Taser company song praising the almighty taser? Puhlease - get a room.

Discuss setting a national taser training standard that all police officer taser training in Canada will henceforth include taser hits directly to the chest (not the back), with the darts aimed towards the location thought to be most risky from a cardiac effect point of view. Trainees may wish to wear a face shield to protect their eyes and face. If you truly believe Taser's propaganda about the degree of risk (they quote 1-in-10 MLLION risk), then you have no reason not to adopt this policy.

Please discuss the ethics of having overly-friendly relationships between the police and manufacturers of controversial weapons. Have you considered a more arms-length approach?

I hope that you have a nice meeting.

RESTRAINT - Risk of Death in Subjects That Resist

The so-called Canadian Police Research Centre is working on a study called 'RESTRAINT (Risk of Death in Subjects That Resist)'. [LINK] The head of the CPRC sat beside Taser's Tom Smith in Ottawa at the Commons committee. Not even trying to maintain a credibility air-gap.

I assume that CPRC will eventually be presenting a Part 2 to be entitled:

DEATH-LOTTERY (Risk of Death in Subjects that are, for example, simply standing there failing to understand commands yelled at them by RCMP officers who have already been told that the subject doesn't understand the English language and those officers already decided that they were going to use the taser even before they arrived on the scene)


"...Subjects that Resist" my ass.

Even the sub-title of the report is evil propaganda that discounts an entire class of taser victims.


Look up 'Karma' on this blog for some ethical guidance about forcing people to unwillingly participate in a street-level death-lottery.


Now, you want to discuss Risk of Death?

Taser proudly points to a so-called study by Webster et al that (get this!) calculates that the risk of death from a taser hit is in the low end of the single digit range in parts per million (some pro-taser spokespuppets [hi Greg] round it to 1-in-10 million).

Not coincidently, this insanely low number means that, given some 700,000+ deployments (including all those many FAKE taser demonstration shots into the back - and ignoring this denominator washing for the time being...), that it is most likely that not a single person in history has ever been killed by a taser [sic(k)]. How convenient from a liability point of view.

With 'science' like this, who needs sorcery?

Taser and Kroll claim that the taser is "safer than Tylenol".

So CPRC - here is the question: Do you believe this crap?

Look at some of the taser-associated deaths reported here and tracked on other blogs. There are more and more cases where the young victim is DRUG FREE, and has NO PRE-EXISTING MEDICAL CONDITION. And yet they are tasered and die of obvious cardiac effects.

(Update: By the way, drug use and pre-existing medical conditions should be considered as 'givens' in the population - so these sorts of issues cannot be considered to be escape clauses in any case. This subtle point has been examined in some detail in this blog before, look it up.)

And now, recently, some coroners and medical examiners have managed to swim away from the excited delirium and related propaganda campaign (indirectly sponsored by Taser by the way) and have found that the taser was the cause of death [LINK].

According to Taser's twisted and perverted world-view - this can't be happening.


If you believe that the risk of death-by-taser (internal, cardiac) is higher than 1-in-10 million, then you must also conclude that Taser and Kroll are wrong. And if they're wrong, then they're liable and deserve to be bankrupted.

So what is your position CPRC?


PS: Have your work checked (if you dare) by epidemiologist Dr. Chambers [LINK][LINK] to see if it jives with the real world statitics. There appears to be zero chance of any overlap between Taser's world-view and the real world (but that's just my opinion based on common-sense).

Update: See also previous post 'Injuries vs Death' [LINK]

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Frontline police want Flame-Throwers

Frontline police officers want some flame-throwers. To control unruly crowds of terrorists menacing our cities and forests, and to protect the innocent children and cute fluffy puppies. If you don't agree with the police needing flame-thowers, then you're just a no-good damn soft-on-crime terrorist-loving liberal weenie.

And the police want some portable water-boarding equipment for when the taser's Touch-Torture mode is simply inappropriate. Like late at night when the screaming the taser induces might wake local residents (water-boarding is much much quieter and equally effective at inducing compliance).

And the police need tasers. Lots and lots of tasers. Because as you know, Canadian police need to shoot several people per year with their guns, so they need to append (not replace) this modest total with thousands and thousands of taser deployments. Although the connection from a dozen or so police shootings to thousands and thousands of taser deployments is a bit vague, if you disagree then you're just a damn communist.

A taser in action...

Cranky security guards (a.k.a. mindless thugs, a.k.a. fascist Hitler Youth, a.k.a. customers of Taser) at a US hospital vastly overreact to some jokes and beat up and taser a visiting reverend. [LINK]

Don't miss the video at the above link (from the CBS 'Early Show', broadcast July 25, 2008).

The hospital tried to press charges against the victim (as a legal cover), but those false charges were dismissed. The fact that such charges were pressed against the victim indicates the ethical vacuum at that hospital. Now there is a massive lawsuit pending against the hospital.

This sort of ugly incident is the putrid reality of tasers. I believe that this sort of abuse using tasers happens every single day. The world would be a much better place without pocket-size torture devices available to every asshole. Tasers should be banned.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Victoria's Chief will not be attending conference

14 August 2008 - The mayor of Victoria, BC [hometown of Taser's Canadian distributor, not that there's anything wrong with that] announced the immediate resignation of embattled Victoria police chief Paul Battershill under mysterious circumstances. [LINK] [LINK]

"The disciplinary hearing set for August 18 [2008] will no longer proceed due to the resignation of Battershill..."

The last-minute timing of this resignation can perhaps be most-simply explained by the fact that Battershill has been on paid administrative leave since last October (practically indistinguishable from a 10-month fully paid vacation), while making an annual salary of $167,000. Nice work if you can get it.

Battershill was involved in several reviews and reports regarding tasers (but there may be no further connection). Of course, the findings in those Taser Reports should be heavily discounted if those involved in its creation are not consistently demonstrating the highest ethical standards.

Further details of the alleged misbehaviour are being withheld. I expect that the details will be forced out into the public view in due course. Secrecy regarding possible police misbeviour is not officially sanctioned in Canada, no matter what sort of confidentiality agreements may have been made with the perhaps-guilty party.

Weird.

We cower behind our propaganda

Steve Tuttle, vice-president of Taser International, said "...We stand behind our technology." [LINK]

Yeah, they certain will not stand in front of it (facing it). Lot's of FAKE taser demonstrations into the BACK, but they avoid taking demonstration hits to the chest.

Hey Steve, why not taser 1000 pro-taser folks directly into the chest (not the back), with the darts inserted into the exact locations thought to be most risky, with genuine (unmodified) X26 tasers for your next demo? Line 'em up and knock 'em down. Seven of the full 5-second cycles each. Bring some body bags.

Oh wait - don't bother.

Coroners have already found that tasers can cause cardiac death. [LINK]

And this in spite of Taser's long 'excited delirium' (and more) campaign trying to avoid getting to this point.



Assault Mountie is certified Taser trainer !!??!!

The RCMP officer (Const. Dan Cameron) who was been found guilty of assault [LINK] with a taser at 100 Mile House, BC... ...well, it turns out that he is a certified Taser trainer. [LINK]

This little tidbit of information snuggles perfectly into the overall taser issue. In other words, it is a shocking little detail, but it is not the slightest bit surprising given the wider view of the entire taser issue.

And it really demonstrates the urgent requirement for a major house cleaning (beliefs about safety versus sad reality, standards, policies, training, trainers, ethics, Use of Force, etc.).

Parliament should really seriously consider the taser moratorium option to capture the attention of senior RCMP brass.

"...cardiac arrest caused by the taser..."

In the continuing news about the taser-homicide of Baron "Scooter" Pikes by former Winnfield police officer Scott Nugent:

Nugent has been suspended. He has now been charged with manslaughter and malfeasance. He faces up to 45 years in prison. [LINK]

Mr. Pikes was black. Former officer Nugent is white. According to police records, Winnfield police received tasers in 2007. Over the last year, the tasers have been used 14 times, with 12 of the instances involving black suspects. Ten of the 14 incidents involved officer Nugent. [LINK]

The parish's coroner, Dr. Randolph Williams, ruled in June that Pikes' death was a homicide.

Williams said he consulted with two other coroners, and both agreed that Pikes died of cardiac arrest caused by the taser shocks. [LINK]

That makes three coroners in this case that support this finding. So you just know that taser will show up at the trial with four decrepit 80 year old retired coroners droning on about excited delirium and pre-existing medical conditions and possibly intervention by space aliens.

Look folks, this isn't rocket science. The simplest possible explanation is that Taser is simply wrong about the level of safety of their products with respect to internal risk factors such as cardiac effects.

Change 'BACK' to 'FAKE' in 4 steps (again)

Another FAKE taser demonstration where the taser is fired into the person's BACK to ensure a much higher level of cardiac safety. It would be bad form to have volunteers for demonstration accidentally dying. See the picture at this [LINK].

On the street, there appears to be a statistical surplus of taser hits to the chest associated with those that die.

Platinum Sponsor of Death

Taser is sponsoring the conference of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police to be held 24-27 August 2008 in Montreal. They are paying $25,000 in order to have the opportunity to spread a thick layer of propaganda directly into the Canadian law enforcement community. [LINK]

An association of public servants taking money from the controversial company Taser.

Stinks.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Did somebody say "Instrument of Torture" ???

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - ...Federal prosecutors say two former sheriff's deputies, William and Jeffrey Rogers (father and son), assaulted a man in their custody by repeatedly jolting him with a taser without justification. The former Tippah County deputies also are accused of falsifying reports in an effort to thwart an investigation of the June 2007 incident. A federal grand jury indicted the pair July 31. [LINK]

Did somebody say "Instrument of Torture" ???

The problem here is that some people think that they can get away with the torture because the physical clues are so much smaller than the level of pain. And in many cases, they probably CAN get away with it. This case is a rare exception.

So if you're looking for a device that produces extreme torture and leaves the smallest physical clues, then you want a taser!! Ideal for dungeons and torture chambers - even those with a "County Jail" sign hung over the entrance.

Has anyone seen any evidence that Taser condemns such misuse of their products? Any recent press releases on this sort of subject? Even a generalize statement?

"...homicide by Taser..."

C.S.M. (12 August 2008) Atlanta - A grand jury in rural Louisiana considers Tuesday whether to bring murder charges against a taser-wielding police officer in what may become a seminal case in the hotly debated history of stun guns. No US jury has ever convicted a police officer in connection with a death related to use of an electroshock weapon. But the number of deaths in which the guns have played a role has been growing, along with their use in law enforcement agencies. Now, the coroner in Winnfield, La., has found the death of one Baron "Scooter" Pikes to be homicide by Taser, intensifying a simmering controversy over the devices and exposing the tense tug of war between police and young black men in rural Louisiana. After Winnfield Parish police took Mr. Pikes, who is black, into custody one January morning, a white police officer fired a taser, jolting Pikes nine times in the span of 14 minutes. Pikes never woke up. Police said the 21-year-old Pikes was on drugs and uncooperative, but coroner Randolph Williams took a different view. In a report last month, he said he found no signs of a physical struggle, of drugs, or of any medical condition that could have exacerbated the jolts' effect. ... [LINK]

How is this possible? Weren't we told by Kroll and Taser that the tasers are essentially perfectly incapable of causing death via any internal risk mechanism? "Safer than Tylenol" was the claim.

If I recall correctly, this was the case where the victim was hit with an apparently fatal Touch-Torture taser shot directly to the chest (in addition to the six previous Touch-Torture taser shots to other parts of his body, and two subsequent Touch-Torture taser shots that had no effect since he was already dead). But you might wish to look up the details yourself.

RCMP guilty of assault with taser

Canadian Press (11 Aug 2008) 100 MILE HOUSE, B.C. — A B.C. [natch] Mountie has been convicted of assault with a taser stemming from a police call to a pub in 100 Mile House in a December 2006 incident. Constable Cameron and two other officers were called to a pub on Highway 97, and arrested the man who was hit with the stun gun. A provincial court judge ruled that ... Cameron's use of the stun gun was not warranted. Cameron's sentencing hearing will be scheduled for sometime next month. An RCMP spokesperson says Cameron remains on active duty at the 100 Mile House detachment until after sentencing and the outcome of a formal internal disciplinary hearing. [LINK] [Truth...Not Tasers]

I wonder if the judge in this case is aware of the recent legal 'discovery' that a taser is legally a 'firearm' in Canada?

The justice system is always interested in making examples of offenders to set an example for other so as to reduce misbehaviour. It will be interesting to see if this offender is given a slap on the wrist, or something more serious. Turning it around, what sort of sentence would the victim in this case get if he had hit the officer with a taser?

Remaining on active duty (after convicted) until sentencing? Sorry, should be on leave effective immediately. Perhaps paid leave until the internal hearing, but not on active duty. No way.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Well, here's one counter example...

Female officer, Debra Indovina... shot Mr. Thomas with her Taser. Prongs lodged in his buttocks and back. She shocked him three times. He died later. [LINK]

Was the victim/subject also tasered in the chest too?

Some witness report police brutality. Other witness didn't report seeing any such brutality (but the those reports seem to indicate that they arrived a bit later and perhaps missed the early action).

Based on other information I've seen, this incident is going to be a mess to straighten out.

Simple question

For those most perfectly crystal-clear taser-associated deaths (no drugs, no preexisting medical conditions, young and healthy), why does it seems like there is there a statistic surplus of taser shots to the chest?

Turn around and try again

A taser can prevent injuries to officers, citizens and subjects

Especially if they would be restricted to shooting them in the subject's back (never chest).


Another FAKE demonstration:

After making sure everyone was ready, Whisnant said, "Taser, Taser, Taser," and pulled the trigger. The weapon's two small probes flew into Duckett's back. [LINK]

Have a look at the picture at the above link. How often does this happen in the real world?

In fact, this training methodology is evidence that those that recommend such FAKE 'in the back' shots for training (Taser themselves) are not quite as certain about the taser's safety as they say.

FAKE.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Apparently there are no legal limits...

Deputy Stephen Krendick has been found not guilty of the murder of Mark D. McCullaugh Jr.

The judge more-or-less blamed the death on the victim's hardening of the arteries. [LINK]


It was alleged that ...McCullaugh, who was shackled in a hogtied position, choked to death within 'minutes' of being sprayed with 'a large amount' of pepper spray, Sterbenz said. Using his autopsy photos, Sterbenz also pointed out 10 distinct marks on McCullaugh's back from what he said were taser stun-gun barbs. In Monday's opening statements, Kosko said Krendick used an entire 16-ounce can of pepper spray, shooting it into McCullaugh's cell through an open flap in the cell door while McCullaugh was naked and restrained. [LINK]

Friday, August 8, 2008

Taser Touch-Torture mode is still 'torture'

[Note: The Touch-Torture mode, where the darts are not used, is also sometimes called the Push-Pain mode. Taser sometimes calls it Drive-Stun mode, but that name is misleading because 'Stun' has nothing to do with it. The most accurate name for this deployment mode is Touch-Torture mode.]

Australia's decision to sign the Protocol to the UN's Convention Against Torture has the potential to put Australia's police in a difficult position. [LINK]

Actually the police probably won't be overly concerned with this issue (type-A brains are often wired with fairly heavy-gauge neural conductors). It'll probably be the more-thoughtful politicians that might feel the full weight of the issue.


Keep in mind that when the taser (M26, X26) is used for pain compliance, it oversteps the already-high mark by a huge ratio. The taser's one-and-only waveform current was never designed for pain compliance. It was designed to go above and beyond pain to reach incapacitation (and some might claim that they've even overshot that target). The ratio of the taser's waveform current as compared to the level required to cause 'intolerable pain' is TWO THOUSAND to one. [LINK] [LINK]

Yes - using the taser for pain compliance is clearly 'torture'. And torture is illegal. Which makes most taser deployments illegal. But the legal system is way behind on this issue.


A non-stupid taser designer could have made the waveform current in touch-torture mode much less than dart deployment mode. The taser waveform current could have been a variable controlled by a logical discrete invoked by cartridge installation (or not). But Taser design staff, being as clever as tree stumps, never incorporated such a simple feature.

And so they've designed a weapon that clearly violates fundamental human rights when used in the touch-torture mode.


And if the taser can be used for pain compliance, then why not a Bic lighter? If a police officer uses a Bic lighter to force someone to let go of a hand rail, is that legal? What's the difference?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Check your training !!

...On July 19, 2008, Ozark police found 16-year old Mace Hutchinson lying under the Highway F overpass at U.S. 65. Officers say they ordered him to turn over. When he didn't comply, they used electric stun guns [PLURAL?] on him up to 19 times because, they say, he became "combative" with them. Hutchinson and his family say he couldn't have done what officers asked [nor been "combative"] because he had a broken back and heel from falling off the bridge. ... Christian County Prosecuting Attorney Ron Cleek ... says he is prepared to file felony assault charges if the investigation finds an officer used unwarranted force against Mace. [LINK]


I'm not saying that tasers were brought to Earth from Hell by Satan himself, but if they were - then what exactly would be different? Anything? Anything at all?


Hey! Free advice to Ozark officials - check your training materials. Read them over very carefully. One word out of place (or more likely, badly written from start to finish) might shift much of the legal blame from the (idiot none-the-less) police officer(s) to the Ozark police force.

Let me ask - were these officers freshly trained? Remember - stupidity rubs off. It seems as if some of it might have rubbed off onto the involved officers. Did Taser helpfully provide the training material and/or recommend the 'certified' Master Armorer {rolls eyes} trainers? Any Taser involvement at all?

You're probably looking at a 7- or 8-figure lawsuit. What was that about tasers saving money?

Other jurisdictions might save themselves the trouble of a massive lawsuit, not to mention the moral issue of attacking their own injured citizens, by reviewing their training materials and programs to ensure that they include some common sense direction, ethical, moral, legal, and first-aid type instruction that might help to preclude such stupid incidents.

Keep in mind - according to everything I've read, these officers would have had to have been trained all about taser. And then they reportedly tasered an injured lad 19 times.

Check your training.

Please.

Quote of the day

Columbia, MO police officer John Gordon Jr. said officers are trained to recognize signs of 'sudden unexpected death' after using a taser. [LINK]


I've read the above statement at least a dozen times and it still makes my head spin (even in context, it is no better). It has all the weird-logic of an Escher artwork [LINK].


But wait - there's more:

No study has linked taser use to injury, Gordon said...

Really? So, the 33% injury rate just slipped past did it? [LINK]


And please don't miss the main point: [LINK]

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Stinger Systems in Canada

Stinger Systems to be marketed in Canada [LINK]

Be advised that I'm not in favour of Stinger Systems, but they do come across as significantly less stupid than Taser.

Here's why:

1) Their devices reportedly get the job done with 75% less current. If true, this should significantly widen the safety margin. When you consider the shape of the typical bell curve, this reported 4:1 difference in current may make a huge difference in cardiac risk.

2) In spite of this, they still do not market their devices as cardiac-safe. I can only presume that their training is more sensitive and thoughful.

3) Reportedly they have not bothered to wriggle past US firearms regulations.

And reportedly the Stinger devices are half the price of tasers.


Stupidity has a radius. If you get involved with stupid people, the stupidity tends to rub off. The police in Canada have been too close to Taser for too long. Time for a break.


Stinger Systems should be advised that Canada has turned out to be Taser's worst nightmare. Stinger Systems would be well-advised to avoid the same mistakes made by Taser.

And Taser should get a brain and have it installed.

"just a tool...", along with jack-boots

Witnesses told the Tribune-Review that Thomas had been shackled with Taser wires pocking his body. They said Thomas was facedown on the pavement and subjected to punches and kicks from four or five officers. "I can't sleep now. Shook up. I feel I have to watch my back and my family's back," said Rose Adams, 51, who witnessed the fracas from a house on Hawthorne Street. ... Adams said she saw five officers -- four men and one woman -- standing around Thomas. First, a tall officer "buried it in his back, just stomped him," she said. Another officer with short-cropped hair then "whomped between his shoulder and back." Then a bald, heavy-set officer "reared back, like you're throwing a ball" and punched Thomas in the head. "He hit so hard that it looked like he hurt his fist or wrist. I seen the body jump and then (Thomas) vomited, his leg jumping. It was disgusting. It was unhumanitarian," said Adams. [LINK]

FBI opens investigation [LINK]

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

"Taser save money" vs. $2M lawsuit

Idiotic horseplay / unfortunate accident results in $2M lawsuit. [LINK]

The sound of silence (from medical examiners)

A company spokes-moron states that 'no medical examiner in Canada has pointed to the taser as a contributing factor in any deaths.'

Yeah, but there seems to be a backlog of mysterious taser-associated deaths.

The sequence is often like this: Tasered. Died (with a statistical surplus of chest hits). No other cause-of-death forthcoming (even months later). And remember that if a taser did cause a death, it would leave no internal postmortem evidence.

There are several recent examples of young, healthy, non-excited, non-delirious people dying immediately after being tasered in the chest. As opposed to all those brave taser trainees that are carefully tasered in the back (NEVER the chest).

And someone should investigate the relationship between Taser and medical examiners in Canada. Is Taser calling these folks to influence their findings? If so, why? Time to call some witnesses and ask some pointed questions. "Have you ever been contacted by anyone from Taser, or anyone in Canada with an interest in tasers?" (Hey! Just asking!)

This isn't rocket science folks.

Stunned stun gun owners

GENESEE COUNTY, Michigan -- Some folks looking for protection may be shocked to find they are putting themselves on the wrong side of the law. The Genesee County Prosecutor's Office recently issued criminal charges against two women caught with stun guns. In the first case, an 18-year-old Flint woman found herself in trouble after she flagged down the police to tell them a man walked off with her cellphone. ...In a separate incident, police stopped a car for a burned out taillight and arrested the 19-year-old Flushing driver when they found a stun gun in her purse. In both cases, the women ended up with a felony charge of stun gun possession -- a crime that carries four years in prison. [LINK]

Doh!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Injuries vs. Death

Apparently some so-called experts, even some doctors (!!), don't seem to make much of a distinction between an injury and a death.

Read this post [LINK] on the Truth...Not Tasers blog about a so-called study by the 'Canadian Police Research Centre', and then read it again and notice that these obviously pro-taser folks in Calgary are casually lumping DEATH into the same pot as injuries.

"No use-of-force technique available to police officers can be considered 'safe.' ... Every use-of-force encounter between the police and a citizen carries with it the possibility for injury for one or all of the participants, however unexpected that injury might be," says a synopsis of the report.

Oh shut the f-ck up.

What is the claimed and actual rate of DEATH ?

Look, if there had been 22 people injured in Canada by tasers, then I wouldn't have bothered to create this blog.

The issue with Taser and tasers is the apparent discrepancy between the claimed level of safety and the actual field safety for the taser (with respect to DEATH from internal mechanisms). And the bad training. Which leads to overuse, misuse and abuse. Which - when all combined - leads to the unnecessary deaths of innocent people (people that would never in a million years have been shot with a gun by the police).

Taser quotes 'studies' by Webster that claim the the chances of death, by any internal mechanism, is in the single digit parts-per-million range. Taser has never acknowledged any internal risk mechanism. Kroll claims the taser is "safer than Tylenol". That's the claim.

Do you believe that?

And do NOT include all the denominator washing that Taser likes to create [LINK] and include [LINK].

What's the actual death rate once the X26 dart(s) hit the chest and the device is cycled one or more times?

The taser has been described as a street level death lottery.


I'm sick and tired of this sort of crap propaganda from these sort of pro-taser folks that can't even make up a good lie.

And why would the folks at the so-called 'Canadian Police Research Centre' try to slip such clumsy pro-Taser propaganda past us? What's with THAT?

If this (injuries/death: same thing) is the quality of output that we're going to get from the Canadian Police Research Centre, then I say that they should be disqualified from the debate.

Strawman half-defeated

...the study stated, "the commonly held belief that tasers carry a significant risk of injury or death... is not supported by the data." [Taser press release]

First of all, CBC found [LINK] that at least one-third of people shot by a taser actually do require medical attention to treat their injuries. So the claim that there is no significant risk of injury, depends upon 33% not being considered to be significant.

Second, most taser critics are not claiming that there is a 'significant risk' of death, but that there is a modest risk of death (when the X26 darts get across the chest and perhaps other factors) and that fact is extremely significant.

Taser suing coroners - the vile background

Remember the news about Taser suing medical examiner Kohler? Here are the related posts [LINK]


Now, here are some additional background details (warning, linked stories are disturbing):

"Using his autopsy photos, Sterbenz also pointed out 10 distinct marks on McCullaugh's back from what he said were Taser stun-gun barbs." [LINK]

"Initially, Summit County Medical Examiner Lisa J. Kohler ruled the death a homicide. ...But in a May 2 Summit County civil court ruling, visiting Judge Ted Schneiderman ordered Kohler to change the manner of death in McCullaugh's autopsy report from 'homicide' to 'undetermined.' Schneiderman's order followed a four-day trial in which Kohler's report was challenged by lawyers from Taser International Inc. and the city of Akron." [LINK]


Now, what was that about the taser being considered by the UN to be "an instrument of torture" ???


And Taser's legal involvement in the aftermath of this disgusting and vile incident could certainly be 'misconstrued' as indicating support for taser abuse. Have they made any statements against this sort of application of tasers?


At least it is becoming clear what goes on behind the closed doors of the jails and prisons in some locations. I wonder how many get away with similar incidents?

Update: see verdict [LINK]

Taser-proximal deaths by month

Nine taser-associated deaths in July 2008. See Truth...Not Tasers blog for The List [LINK].

I notice a trend away from any possible connection to 'excited delirium'. More and more healthy, drug-free, young people dying immediately after being tasered. Taser has been strangely silent - all out of ideas? So what's left? Really - logically - what explanations are left standing?

Were Taser and Kroll wrong about the level of safety regarding internal risk issues? Did they fail to warn about these serious (possibly lethal) internal risk issues? Wouldn't they therefore be liable? Perhaps even negligent?


Tasers as self-defence - counter measures

If you're considering a taser as a method of self defense, let's think it through...

All the mugger needs to do is place or wrap a layer of tin foil or aluminum screen across his chest and stomach area (under his outer layer of clothes) and it will short-out the taser darts. Then he can walk up to you laughing and beat you to death while the taser sparks harmlessly across his thorax.

Tasers as a method of self-defense are a stupid idea. I predict that sooner or later you'll see someone armed with a taser killed because they were armed with a taser.

At least the 'Anti-felon ID tags' dispersed by the useless taser will help to identify his or her dead body.