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.

Monday, December 29, 2008

2008 - a year in review...

The Year 2008 In Review

(And this is just a sample. It's not even all the major highlights.)


We started the year 2008 with a review of an "article" in IEEE Spectrum written by Taser's leading braintrust member, Dr. Mark Kroll. We more-fully exposed Dr. Kroll's extreme financial ties to Taser. [LINK] & [LINK] Then we dissected his Taser mouthpiece article more fully. [LINK] It was also noted that Dr. Kroll is a serial non-discloser of his close ties to Taser. [LINK]

Also very early this year, we noted that the X26 taser has a electrical waveform with characteristics that are the exact opposite of those characteristics that were claimed to be the reason that the M26 taser was 'safe'. The older 1999-era M26 taser is high frequency and low duty cycle. The 2003-era X26 taser is low frequency and very high continuous 100% duty cycle. I've not seen this critical technical distinction high-lighted in any other source. Taser's own data sheets mention the raw information, but not a word about this critical change to the waveform. [LINK] [LINK] and [LINK]. See also [LINK].

Some of the basics of Canadian law jumped out at me. I'm not a lawyer, and perhaps there is 'case law' that has taken away some of our fundamental rights (I doubt it). But some of the mistakes being made are (quite literally) elementary. Lawful 'force' is a noun. It's not a damn verb. Police officers and officials that think that they're allowed to use painful electric shock as a form of on-the-spot torture to coerce (force - verb) someone to obey are morons. Let me repeat - morons. The language used to forbid such behaviour is crystal clear. If 'failure to obey' is an offense, then add it to the list of charges and bring the subject before the court. You're not allowed to torture. And Tasers-R-Torture. [LINK]

By the 6th day, it had been noted that former Taser Board of Director member Mr. Bernie Kerik was facing charges that might result in him being jailed for up to 142 years. [LINK] [LINK] (Update: now facing just 28 years. [LINK]) In Canada, we have Sgt Darren Laur (Victoria, BC) and his 'apparent and perceived conflict of interest' [LINK], and coroner James Cairns' jaunts [LINK]. There are quite a few more ethical lapses associated with Taser and/or Taser-associated folks - eg. [LINK] - review the whole blog for more.

Shooting holes in Taser propaganda is a continuing theme of this blog. After Smith's appearance before SECU, I blasted away at the pure BS Taser propaganda. [LINK][LINK][LINK] There is so much propaganda from Taser that is so weak that almost anyone with a modicum of skepticism can instantly see the logical and technical flaws.

By early February, I'd tracked down a certain Taser fan-boy, (apparently) named David E. Zuskin, who (it seems) had been spamming the Internet with his nonsense trademark 'TASERS SAVE LIVES EVERYDAY' (in all caps) - which is both factually and grammatically incorrect. He has since installed a brain and now keeps a much lower profile (now he's 'Bob'). But he's still out there spamming the Internet - and nursing his investments [smirk...]. He got his bum smacked by his ISP [LINK] after clumsily entering my blog e-mail address into many investment-related news letters as some sort of punishment. Typical... ...these law and order (sic) folks are the ones that will break the law to maintain their order. LOL.

Another theme of this blog is taser abuse, misuse and overuse. For some reason [LINK], tasers are constantly being used where there is little to zero justification. Honestly, I don't care if the police are equipped with flame-throwers, so long as everyone is being perfectly honest. But if the manufacturer of flame-throwers starts claiming that they're perfectly safe, and that the burnt-to-a-crisp subjects are simply examples of Spontaneous Human Combustion, then those flame-throwers need to be put away until the brains are reinstalled and lawsuits settled.

By March, we had had a visit from Grettir, who may or may not be Dr. Mark Kroll himself (it certainly sounded like him). [LINK] The flawed thinking by Grettir was crystal clear - some of the logical errors were shocking in their simplicity - such as double-dipping for the natural protection of everybody's shared anatomical characteristics. The other points were equally easy to shred. It's clear that even self-styled big thinkers sometimes make small mistakes.

I note with interest that as these sorts of pro-taser arguments have been shredded by this blog, they tend to disappear from the Taser PR machine. The only argument that they've been using recently has been the 'reduces injuries to the police officers'. Yeah, so would a 'shoot first and let God figure it out' policy. They've very few arguments left standing.

By April, I had noticed that the higher RMS current values had been expunged from the later data sheets. [LINK] Taser would probably say that it was to reduce confusion. Yeah thanks for thinking of us. Nothing to do with ~160 milliamperes RMS being well above the safety limits, eh?

BC Transit Police revealed their empty-headed policies in April. Tasering fare-cheats for gawd's sake. [LINK] Idiots!

Safety margins were examined here [LINK]. They didn't stand-up very well to even a modest application of scrutiny.

But the most important contribution of this blog might be highlighting the relationship between the M26 waveform, and the X26 waveform, and the potentially huge impact of the seemingly-minor change to the waveform. A little DC offset changes everything - it lowers frequency (more dangerous), and it VASTLY increases duty cycle (to 100% continuous). It really seems that Taser forgot about Fourier. [LINK]

See also the guesstimated spectrograms [LINK].

We started plotting the number of taser-associated deaths per month, by month. The running average jumped up from much less than 1 per month before the introduction of the X26 taser in 2003, to a fairly steady 7 per month after that point. Perhaps it's just a coincidence. Perhaps all these deaths are just coincidences. [LINK] and others... [LINK]

In May, the brave BC Mounties tasered an 82-year old man in his hospital bed. Because he had a knife. It was 'a very dangerous situation'. So the frightened officer walked up really, really close to the elderly man and zapped him at close (zero) range. Yeah, it makes no sense to me either. [LINK]

Taser chairman Tom Smith more-or-less accidentally admitted that tasers takes one life for every 70 'lives saved'. [LINK] Well - ah - that's nice. Except that they claim that almost every time a taser is deployed, it counts as a life saved. Which is nonsense. And that just leaves the lives lost. Not to mention the Karma issue [LINK] of saving some lives at the expense of instituting a street level "death lottery" [LINK] on everyday citizens that do not deserve such risks.

We've reported incidents where diabetics in comas [LINK], people sleeping [LINK], and those having epileptic episodes [LINK] are tasered. These sorts of examples, which are almost endless in number, shred the old stale argument about 'just obey the police and you won't be tasered'. If you see that argument, please be gentle to the weak and ill-informed mind that houses it.

Another theme is the extraordinarily bad Taser-certified training. Given the actual behaviour of some supposedly-trained police officers, the only possible explanation is that the Taser-certified Trainers are brainwashed numskulls, and the Taser-certified training material is so poor as to be considered evil. [LINK] How else can you explain this nonsense? [LINK] !!!

This issue is (far and away) more than sufficient to fully justify a moratorium to allow time to surgically removed all the Taser propaganda from the skulls of those that have been Taser-certifiably brainwashed. It might take a year or two to sort out.

It's probably time to remind the readers that this taser issue is not just in the cross-hairs of a few outrage civilian bloggers. People with PhDs are also pointing out that some of Taser's so-called studies are useless. [LINK] And a more skeptical mind might ask, 'Wouldn't the pro-taser 'researchers' be familiar with the basics of Statistics 101?' Are these uselessly-small sample sizes an innocent mistake? ...or a sign of deeper issues?

Inconvenient facts like this [LINK] must annoy Taser: "...people with heart problems are about 5% of the general population (2% to 8% averages to 5%), but they represent 54% of the (tasered-then-dead) victims. That's about an 11-to-1 ratio that needs to be explained. Well obviously [sic] there's no connection [sic] between the taser and the heart. None at all...[ROLLS EYES]..."

Mid-way through 2008, the NIJ released a report that found no evidence of a high risk from tasers. Well DUH! What about low to moderate risk? And NIJ excluded huge swaths of the population, which add up to most of the population. [LINK]

Then a truth-stretcher named Billo turned the NIJ statement around to claim that this proved that Tasers-R-Safe. [LINK] Which it doesn't. [LINK]

Oh my! Then it was noted by another blogger that Billo the Blogger is a certain William Oliver and he is sitting on the same damn NIJ Taser Study panel!! Oh my gawd. [LINK][LINK] and especially [LINK] !!! Isn't that amazing!! This unabashed taser fan-boy is sitting on the NIJ panel "studying" tasers. And then he systematically twists the NIJ findings to suit Taser. What a bunch of clumsy clots.

On the subject of clumsy clots - I discovered by accident that Taser's lawyer Micheal Brave was registering domain names that promote "Excited Delirium" and he points these URLs to a seeming-front organization. Read it here [LINK] and [LINK] You're either in on it, or you're being played like a trumpet.

Taser likes to highlight its legal record, but not that fact that they actually settled many cases to make them go away. [LINK] [LINK]

By September, the RCMP had been body-slammed by an independent report [LINK]. But by mid-December, the RCMP thumbed their noses at the Parliamentary committee SECU that directed that the RCMP recategorize tasers as impact weapons (to cut back on the abuse, misuse, and overuse). [LINK][LINK] I guess the RCMP doesn't take them seriously, but they should... [LINK]

Still in September, the Canadian Police Research Center (seemingly acting as a branch of Taser sometimes, sat beside Taser at SECU for gosh sakes!) report failed to note that tasers are already considered to be firearms. [LINK] You'd think that might be worth noting. They had their chain yanked in August [LINK].

Taser's French distributor got himself arrested. [LINK] For some reason, Taser seems to be occasionally associated with people (Di Zazzo, Kerik) that are not as far above the law as they thought.


There is so much more. The above tidbits are just a sample of the issues that we've discussed. I've made some very interesting findings along the way.

It's been a crazy year for Taser. Their stock has tanked "due to oil prices", but I believe that the next year is when the perfect storm of cold hard facts will intersect with the legal system to make the year 2009 even more interesting for them.

‘LESS THAN LETHAL’?

Amnesty International has released a report entitled:

‘LESS THAN LETHAL’? - The Use of Stun Weapons in US Law Enforcement

[Note the question mark.]

It's a .pdf file, about 1.3MB. Find it here [LINK].


Read the report and note how extremely careful, balanced and fair a report it is. Compare your impression to the drool- and spittle-laced venom coming from the extreme 'law and order' (sic) right-wing nut jobs who will denounce anything coming from Amnesty International.

More later.

Inglewood has some policing problems

LA Times (28 Dec. 2008) - In the span of four months this year, Inglewood officers shot and killed four people, three of them unarmed. The Times' review of court documents, law enforcement records and interviews shows that the problem is not new. Five of the 11 people shot and killed by Inglewood police since 2003 were unarmed. ... [LINK]

At this point, some Taser fan-boys would suggest that 'all the world's problems could be solved by giving these trigger-happy Inglewood police officers tasers.

... Two Inglewood officers were involved in using electric taser guns on unarmed suspects four times in five weeks -- including on one man's genitals -- prompting defense attorneys to call them the "Taser Twins."

What's needed here are some (very serious) criminal charges brought against those that break the law... ...even if they carry a badge.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Opposition parties call for RCMP taser ban

"Opposition parties call for RCMP taser ban" [LINK]

Make it happen - it'll gain much-needed world-wide attention. Canadians are the ultimate in moderate people. We are a land of Extremist Moderates. A Canadian ban will focus attention on the real problems with tasers - their abuse, overuse and misuse. Also, it might allow time for all the Taser brainwashing to be surgically removed from those affected.

OTTAWA — Opposition parties want the RCMP to stop using taser stun guns after the force refused to reclassify the weapons to restrict use. [Golly - is the national police force of Canada to be accountable to our elected Parliament? Say it isn't so...]

The Liberals and NDP
[Who can form the next government at the drop of a hat...] say the Mounties missed a parliamentary committee’s Dec. 15 deadline to categorize the 50,000-volt electronic devices as impact weapons. Reclassifying tasers would limit their use to situations where a person assaults police or the public, or poses a serious threat of harm or death. [Which seems to be a perfectly reasonable approach - unless you've been brainwashed by Taser and deny the plausibility of all news reports...]

An all-party committee of MPs called for the restriction last June until Taser safety claims are supported by impartial studies. [AND REAL WORLD RESULTS MUST AGREE] The public safety committee also recommended the RCMP revise its policy on stun gun use to include clear and strict guidelines — as is the case for actual guns — that would limit multiple firings.

Liberal public safety critic Mark Holland says the Mounties have done little in response. ‘‘In a couple of those things, they said they’ve done something, but we don’t know exactly what and we’re not given any real details,’’ he said Tuesday. ‘‘That’s just not acceptable. It’s not like they’ve had two weeks, they’ve had six months.’’

The taser can be fired from a distance of several metres and cycled repeatedly once steel probes puncture the skin or clothing. The guns can also be used multiple times in up-close stun mode — a zap likened to leaning on a hot stove — sometimes causing blisters or burns.

The RCMP says reclassifying the taser as recommended by the committee could threaten police and public safety. [Oh utter and complete Bull Sh-t. If lives are in danger, then use your damn gun. That's what its for. Guns can save lives too if used appropriately. And at least guns are not associated with overuse, misuse and abuse on the massive scale that tasers are.]

Sgt. Sylvie Tremblay, an RCMP spokeswoman, said because Parliament is currently not sitting, ‘‘there has been no progress report provided to the committee.’’
[Bull. Parliament was only JUST prorogued a couple of weeks ago. You had plenty of time to act. Time's up.] An August briefing prepared for RCMP Commissioner William Elliott maintains the taser ‘‘is an effective tool with very limited injury rates.’’ [Yeah, what about the last Commish?]

The force says it has restricted taser use, improved reporting on stun gun firings and now requires officers to be re-certified in Taser training each year. [NOOOOO!!!!! Not until the ridiculous Taser training has been rewritten to allow for the real world results.]

Holland says that doesn’t go far enough. ‘‘For an issue that has demanded the national attention as much as this issue has, because of the fact that there have been serious injuries and deaths, we expected a lot more.’’

Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski died in October 2007 after RCMP officers repeatedly zapped him and pinned down at Vancouver International Airport. Amateur video of his wrenching final moments was beamed around the world as Tasers became water-cooler talk for outraged viewers.

Others defended the stun guns that remain an overwhelmingly popular tool with police. In all, more than 20 people in Canada have died after being hit with a taser. Mounties across Canada have used their stun guns more than 5,000 times in the last seven years.

[Replacement for the gun, eh? If the police used their guns to kill thousands of Canadians over seven years, then they would have been the biggest band of murderers in Canadian history. Wrong argument? But review what the SG of Alberta claimed a while back - "thousands" of lives saved. What a crock... Tasers are vastly overused.]

[Also, do the math. 5000 taser hits, but most probably in the perhaps-safer 'Touch Torture' mode. So how many direct taser hits to the chest? Maybe 1000? Pick a number. Taser-associated death rate with barbs on chest is what? 20+/~1000 = ~2%? Pick your own numbers. Is the result somewhere in the single-digit range? Hmmmmm? Real world results take ultimate precedence over any wishful-thinking, ivory-tower dreams emerging from the Taser brain-trust.]

NDP deputy leader Thomas Mulcair said the rules for taser use remain unclear. ‘‘The mistake that’s been made over the past few years is to perceive the taser as being electric pepper spray or an electric night stick — something that could control someone who was in difficulty,’’ he said. [BAD TRAINING!] ‘‘Unfortunately now, with over 20 deaths, it’s incredibly obvious to anyone who looks at the situation, that we’ve got to mark a pause for the use of the taser right now, simply because it’s been proven abundantly clear that they’re too dangerous to be used without proper rules. And we don’t have proper rules.’’

The RCMP sent several of its stun guns to the testing lab in response to a new analysis that found some tasers pack more of a shock than the manufacturer promises, raising questions about their safety. A scientific review commissioned by the CBC and French-language Radio-Canada concluded that four out of 41 guns tested actually discharged more electrical current than Taser International says is possible. [You mean - gasp - they're wrong? Say it isn't so!]
In some of the test firings the police weapons delivered 50 per cent more current. The devices in question were manufactured prior to 2005.

"Tasers are an outrage..."

The Independent, UK (22 December 2008) - Johann Hari: Tasers are an outrage we must resist. We are moving to a culture of widespread assault by electricity... [LINK]

The article at the above link shows exactly what the citizens of the UK will be in for - if Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, has her way. Abuse, overuse and misuse multiplied by 30,000 more stinking taser torture devices.

Extract:

...In the US, a 16-year-old schoolboy was tasered by cops in a playground for "using profanity"; a dementia-riddled man in his eighties was shocked for urinating in the park; 50,000 volts were fired at a 17-year-old boy who had fallen off an overpass and broken his back. The Metropolitan [London] Police have said they won't participate in Smith's Taser roll-out because they know it'll be particularly disastrous for relations with black and Asian communities. In the US, only 18 per cent of tasered people are white. ...


Yes, tasers are an outrage.

The all-too-typical misuse is a deep perversion of human values. If only - oh if only - the promises were within a million miles of the putrid reality.

And who exactly is responsible for the reprehensible training?

"Necessity" apparently depends on mood

New York City police officers have used tasers far less often since September, when an emotionally disturbed man fell to his death... [LINK]

Problem is... ...this 'far less often' is actually only a tiny fraction of the reduction that is required to bring the abuse, misuse and overuse into some sort of alignment with what might be considered reasonable by a reasonable person.

Tasers - the ugly truth...

This is just a seemingly-random collection of taser stories that have come across the news wire over the past few weeks.


Palo Alto police officers illegally provoked a March 15 confrontation in which they stunned a transient man with tasers, a judge said Wednesday in dismissing prosecutors' case against Joseph Ciampi. He was charged with resisting an officer in the line of duty, a felony. Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Thang Nguyen Barrett ruled that the officers had no right to force Ciampi out of the van he was living in by pretending to call a tow truck. That unlawful trick, he said, tainted their actions in the confrontation that followed. While police are allowed to use deception in certain circumstances, Barrett said, it wasn't justified in this case because Ciampi wasn't suspected of any legitimate crime. [LINK][LINK]


WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) -- Charges have been dropped against a man who was subdued with a taser at his father's funeral. The Star-News of Wilmington reported Thursday that the woman who took out a warrant against Gladwyn Taft Russ III did not appear in court on Monday. Glenda L. Sellars had taken out the warrant in August, claiming Russ had threatened to kill her. Assistant District Attorney Chris Flynn said there was no evidence except what Sellars had said. Russ was a pallbearer and was loading his father's casket into a hearse last month when undercover deputies approached him. Relatives said two deputies dressed in coats and ties grabbed Russ and kneed him in his back before using a taser on him. Five sheriff's deputies were disciplined by New Hanover County Sheriff Sid Causey for their actions. [LINK]


ADVANCE, N.C. -- A man who deputies shocked with a taser as his horse barn burned will get $12,000 in a settlement. Harold Smith accused the deputies of pushing him to the ground and shocking him twice as fire destroyed his barn and five of his horses in late September. The county completed the settlement recently, and neither side admitted any wrongdoing. Smith claimed he was running toward the burning barn to tell firefighters the best way to get around the property. Deputies said they were trying to protect Smith by preventing him from getting any closer to the burning building. [LINK]


According to an incident report, a deputy used his taser on James Parker, an associate pastor at the Cathedral of Faith, after he refused to comply with repeated orders. Some witnesses called the deputy's actions unfair and unprovoked. [LINK]


Any pro-taser fanboys left out there? LOL.

Out of the Fryingpan, and into the Fires of Hell

EDMONTON - Some Edmonton police officers have chosen not to carry tasers because of the controversy the weapons attract, despite believing the devices are valuable tools. While testifying as a witness in a disciplinary hearing for two other officers, Const. Mike Wasylyshen said he has stopped carrying a taser because of past criticisms. "I had some bad luck with a Taser incident in 2002, to be honest." In October 2002, Wasylyshen used a taser to wake up Randy Fryingpan, 16, who was passed out in a car. The incident was heavily criticized and a judge later threw out a charge against Fryingpan. [LINK]

Well, at least this Hey-wake-up BUZZ!! incident happened back in 2002 when tasers were 'safe' 'because' the current waveform from the older 1999-era M26 taser was high frequency and low duty cycle. Unlike the X26 taser introduced in mid-2003 that has a low frequency waveform and a continuous 100% duty cycle. [LINK]


Tasers seem inextricably linked to misuse, abuse, and overuse. I'd rather the police had Uzi machine guns. At least there is a moral force to minimize the use of machine guns. There seems to be no such moral limits on use of tasers --> Hey wake-up! BUZZ! {Rolls eyes}

Perhaps one of the fundamental problems with tasers is that the effect is almost entirely internal (invisible). If the taser barbs were much larger and left huge gaping wounds gushing blood, then perhaps the abuse would be reduced.

There is obviously something seriously wrong, almost perverted, happening in the official Taser-certified training. The wrong message has been issued to those given these weapons --> Hey wake-up! BUZZ! {Rolls eyes}

Time for a moratorium to allow time to retrain everyone that has anything to do with these weapons.

And all the so-called experts are the first ones that require intervention and almost an exorcism of Taser propaganda.

A "Contributing Cause of Death"

San Jose officials Tuesday agreed to pay $70,000 to the wife and child of a man who died in 2005 after police jolted him with Tasers, marking the city's first settlement over a fatality linked to the stun guns. The settlement over the death of Jose Angel Rios, which the City Council approved unanimously, comes as mounting fatalities prompt questions about the safety of the devices, which police have rushed to adopt as a less-deadly alternative to handguns.

Five people have died in the city after being shocked by police Tasers since San Jose issued the electrical weapons to all officers in 2004. Two other lawsuits over deaths that followed police Taser shocks are pending, while another was thrown out of court. The Rios case was among two in which the coroner cited the stun gun as a contributing cause of death. "We're seeing more fatalities following their use, and it raises questions about whether they are as safe as the manufacturer claims," said Peter Bibring, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union in Southern California. [LINK]

A "Contributing Cause of Death" and a settlement check for $70,000.

Put that in your denial pipe and smoke it.

Taser's other Canadian PR firm: The RCMP

Let's play Spot the Contradiction

Winnipeg Sun (17 December 2009) - Manitoba RCMP say the use of a Taser actually saved a man's life on Opaskwayak Cree Nation late last night. ...a [highly intoxicated] 19-year-old man was....holding two knives to his own throat. ...told officers he wanted to die and asked police to shoot him. ...the man began to stab himself with knives and police stepped in to shock him with a taser. Police say the man was then taken into custody without further injury. The man was not seriously injured. [LINK]

A drunk young man with knives starts stabbing himself, but is not seriously injured? It's interesting that the facts don't quite square with the RCMP & Taser Public Relations point of the story.

So you want to count this take-down of a highly intoxicated young man as a live saved by the taser? LOL. Puhleeze...


Replacement for the gun? More like a replacement for the second officer on his hands and knees just behind the highly intoxicated subject, while the first officer pushes the subject backwards. It's more like an episode of Keystone Kops than a life saved.

The taser is (in Canada) considered to be a firearm. And the Parliamentary Committee SECU wants the RCMP to classify it as an impact weapon. Police shouldn't be using the potentially-lethal taser to take-down highly intoxicated subjects. Use whatever methods have been used for the past 140-odd years. And this doesn't mean that you'd have shoot the subject with a gun; nor is it necessary to allow him to poke himself with knives all day and night.

See this previous post: [LINK]

RCMP to SECU: (well?)

The Parliamentary Committee (SECU) studying tasers told the RCMP to reclassify the taser as an impact weapon before mid-December 2008. I wouldn't have been on the distribution list for any memos, but I don't recall seeing anything in the news that the RCMP have accepted this direction (it wasn't exactly a request - it was an 'or else').

Maybe everyone in Canada should have Taser's certified Brainwashing session so that we will all understand and stop questioning Taser's official policy that tasers-r-safe.

Police almost admit what Taser will not... can not...

Law enforcement agencies consider Tasers to be a less-than-lethal weapon that, like all weapons, includes the risk of death, said Lt. Scott Dunn of the Sheriff’s Department. "There are risk factors," he said, "but there’s less risk using a taser than a gun." [LINK]

What sort of risk factors Lt. Dunn?

Taser admits falling down and banging one's head. Taser admits drowning if you taser someone while they're underwater. But Taser likes to play word games when it comes to individual susceptibilities. In other words, if you die from internal risk factors (cardiac is one example), then it must be pretty-much all your fault. Because (Taser claims, with a well-executed straight face), the taser cannot possibly affect your heart.

I suspect that Lt. Dunn, like many police officers, knows in his heart that there is more to the risk than Taser is willing to clearly admit. Everyone knows what is going on... ...it's become a liability-avoidance issue.


Back to Lt. Dunn prehistorical argument about less risk than a gun.

As has been discussed many times before, this argument is sort-of true - but it covers up a much larger, much more important, truth. It is also a mark of ignorance on those making this type of 'better than a gun' argument.

Fact: Tasers are used roughly one-hundred times as often as police historically used their guns (varies widely).

So, just to start, they would have to be roughly one-hundred times as safe just to break even.

My review of the news indicates that much of the safety factor is external as opposed to inherent. The risk of death when taser darts hit sensitive areas seems to be in the single digits (low, but infinitely larger than zero) - but perhaps these occasional taser-associated deaths are just a coincidence. {rolls eyes}

But it's actually worse than that... Because tasers are so overused, misused and abused, the risk of death is being meted out on people that did nothing to deserve death. Search this blog for the word 'karma' [LINK (start at the bottom)] in case you're not familiar with the intricacies of this subtle point.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Are naked subjects that dangerous?

I notice that the news feeds are constantly reporting that various naked people are being tasered. [LINK] And, as is not surprising, some are not surviving their taser-aided arrest. [LINK]

[Note that there are enough incidents that I can use Google News searches as links. 68 and 55 hits respectively for the above examples, many of which will refer to the same incidents. But still, being naked and being tasered seem to be strangely linked. And 'danger to police' seems extremely far-fetched.]

Are naked people (a certain sign that they're not having a good day) so dangerous that tasers need to be used? Or are the police so ill-prepared for the naked end of 'dealing with the public' that they're squeamish? Haven't the brave police officers been trained (and I don't include Taser Certified Brainwashing in the category of real training) to deal with subjects without reaching for a potentially-lethal weapon seemingly all the time?

How often do police shoot naked people with their service revolver? If they did, then difficult questions would be asked, such as "Why did you shoot him?", "Are you insane?" and "Can you place your badge and gun on my desk?"

This trend of tasering naked people certainly exposes that many of the pro-taser arguments are utter rubbish.

Season's Greetings 2008

Apologies for not posting anything for the past week or more. Between business travel and getting ready for Christmas, it's been a bit hectic.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Time's up...

Time's up.

"...the force must be directed to rewrite its rules and reform its conduct regarding taser-gun use and exertion of force in order to spare the lives of those Canadians who aren't a picture of health." [LINK]

The Parliamentary deadline of 15th December 2008 is pretty much gone (unless something happens in the next few hours). Did the RCMP fully embrace all the requested (correction: demanded) taser policy changes? Last I heard they were still looking at their shoes, kicking the floor, and mumbling something.

So?

Ding Ding Ding - time's up.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

"sudden death following restraint"

The Cause of Death for Mr. Dziekanski was listed as "sudden death following restraint". [LINK]

"sudden death following restraint"

Okay - I give up. Where's the actual 'cause'? I see four words and not one of them offers anything that actually amounts to a cause of death.

At least they managed to avoid another meaningless phrase, 'Excited Delirium'. But now they've created another phrase almost devoid of clear meaning.

The word 'sudden' and the words 'following restraint' certainly indicate that the restraint was temporally-associated with the death (and in the correct order). What a coincidence!

Maybe one could go out on a limb and leave out the first three words.

Then it would be: Cause of death: "restraint".


Perhaps they've run into the Proof Issue that I have discussed previously:

Imagine a world where a potentially-lethal "nonlethal/less-lethal" weapon exists that can work its unreliable magic while leaving no detectable postmortem evidence when things go badly. Imagine the controversy that would arise in such a circumstance. Oh - here we are.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Compare and contrast - then think...

It might not be perfectly obvious - but there is a huge logic gap revealed by the Dziekanski findings and how they fit into the larger taser issue. Allow me to explain.


Taser claims that their taser products are simply not capable of affecting the heart, nor do they allow for any internal risk factors whatsoever. If they allow that the tasers can affect the heart or anything similar, then it would be reasonable to assume that the effect might possibly be fatal for some people. So they can never admit it - they simply can't. We shouldn't expect them to; it's a waste of time waiting for it.

Now, the Dziekanski findings clearly stated that the 'taser jolts contributed to' the death.

How is this possible?


So on one side, Taser essentially claims that the taser cannot possibly affect the heart, and that there are no internal risk factors whatsoever. They claim that there is a large safety factor. And on the other side, the Dziekanski findings state that there is an effect, and that the taser jolts were a contributing factor. This is a huge discrepancy.

One side or the other is wrong - dead wrong.

Either the taser is capable of affecting the heart (in some people), or it isn't (ever).

Which is it?


The phrase 'contributing factor' is another way of saying 'partially caused'. This is not the opposite of 'caused'. It's right next door.


Also, we've recently heard in the news that some older tasers (or perhaps those using older high voltage modules under new serial numbers ? [LINK]) emitted roughly 50% more current than specified. And that this lack of consistency can increase the risk. In other words, tasers vary and this can be a huge issue.

Well what about the variability in the humans? 'Heart disease' was mentioned in the Dziekanski findings. I'll bet that I have some heart disease. I'll bet that you have some heart disease. I'll bet that (other than the kids) other members of my family have some degree of heart disease. Same for your family.

So, do you think that humans might have another +/- 50% variability? Are we going to recall and test all citizens and visitors to make sure that their hearts are compatible with the taser?

If you accept that the variability of taser is a safety issue, then perhaps the variability of humans might be an issue too. I guess the safety concept all depends on (non-?) overlapping bell curves. Which is never ZERO risk. Never. No such thing. And it's not millions-to-one either.


To sum it all up:
  • Taser does not admit to any internal risk factors, such as cardiac effects
  • (But we would expect them to say that)
  • The Dziekanski findings state that the taser jolts were a contributing factor
  • These two positions do not jive
  • Therefore, Taser is almost certainly wrong in their safety claims
If a taser can contribute to a death from internal effects, and Taser does not provide warnings (and - in fact - denies the possibility), then they are EXTREMELY LIABLE.

Sue the bastards.


And if the safety level isn't as claimed, then the entire training package is completely wrong. And all the so-called experts and certified trainers are basically certifiably-brainwashed-by-Taser, and their expert opinions are less-than-useless. And all the certified-trained officers are trained wrong. In fact - anyone that thinks that the taser cannot contribute to a death is WRONG (certain police chiefs, etc.).

Time for a moratorium to allow time to clean up this mess.


All of this flows logically from the Dziekanski findings that the taser jolts were a contributing factor.

"Contributed to, but didn't cause"

In short - some aspects of these findings are a crock of sh_t. And obviously so.

Let's review the list of contributing factors and see how 'dangerous' each one might be.

Robert Dziekanski's death was not directly caused by the Taser jolts but they were one of several contributing factors, along with heart disease, alcohol withdrawal, the stress of being restrained and a decreased ability to breathe due to an officer kneeling on him, said Stan Lowe, spokesman for the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch.

1) taser jolts

Hmmm... Taser 'jolts'. Been any controversy about them recently?

And I don't mean just "unfounded" public concern - I mean people with PhDs writing reports that indicate a significant chance of cardiac effects.

More on this later... (there's a huge gap in the logic)

2) heart disease

It would not be reasonable to deny this as a possible (even likely) contributing factor. But given that some degree of heart disease probably exists in much of the population, it should be accepted as a given. Thus, Taser would be EXTREMELY LIABLE if their evil little toy kills people that happen to have some heart disease.

3) alcohol withdrawal

Geesh - How many people topple over dead during AA meetings?

This is utter crap. Don't forget that there were accusations that Mr. Dziekanski was drunk, or on drugs, until it was realized that such claims didn't really make sense for someone that had been wandering around in a secure area in an airport for hours and hours.

Basically - since there were no traces of drugs or alcohol found in Dziekanski's system, they're now blaming the LACK OF ALCOHOL. Rich. Really rich.

4) stress of being restrained

Yeah - "restrained" with a taser. How many people are killed during their arrest when tasers are not involved? Do the math. Tasers are not used in the vast majority of arrests. And yet when they are used, we see the occasional 'mysterious' death.

5) officer kneeling on him

If this is really a contributing factor, then there needs to be a review of how officer's kneel on subjects during restraint. If the officer kneels on the subject in a manner that contributes to a death, then isn't that a crime (manslaughter)? How often does this happen? I'll accept that this could be a contributing factor, but it's a stretch and barely makes any sense.

More later...

Taser 'contributed to, but didn't cause' Dziekanski's death

The results for Robert Dziekanski's autopsy have finally been revealed.

According to a report on Canadian Press [LINK]:

Robert Dziekanski's death was not directly caused by the Taser jolts but they were one of several contributing factors, along with heart disease, alcohol withdrawal, the stress of being restrained and a decreased ability to breathe due to an officer kneeling on him, said Stan Lowe, spokesman for the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch.

I'll have some comments on this shortly...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ouch...

Read this (all of it): [LINK]

'no charges' against police officers involved with death of Dziekanski

CTV News reports that no charges will be made against the RCMP officers that were involved in the killing (no other word for it...) of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver Airport. [LINK]

I wonder if this is the taser proof issue that I've mentioned before? [LINK]

But even with this ethical and philosophical quandary - did the prosecutors fail to understand that pointing a firearm without justification is a criminal offense, and that the taser is a firearm?

Manufactured when?

CTV News et al - Affidavits made by Taser employees allege that Taser 'sawed open' returned tasers and reused the probably-defective high voltage circuit in brand-new tasers. [LINK]

Be sure to watch the video at the above link.

Taser 'settled' the lawsuit without admitting any wrong-doing, but made out a cheque for $20M.


Any Taser fan-boys left out there? LOL.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Canadians 'dead set' against tasers

Globe and Mail newspaper article about Taser "yakkity yak" excuses why their products fail-unsafe. [LINK]

About 50 public comments and the VAST MAJORITY (90+%) are strongly against tasers and Taser. [LINK] It's a big swing in public opinion over the past year or so.

And those making the very few pro-taser comments are presenting old and stale arguments ("...better than a gun..."); which indicates that they've not been following the issue at all.

Oh - and on the subject of Taser Quality Assurance - see this post [LINK] at the Truth...Not Tasers blog.

What a fiasco.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tasering diabetics - again...

In Oklahoma, a driver went into severe diabetic shock, but instead of getting help, he was tasered and handcuffed. ... [LINK]

If you're not extremely outraged by this incident, then you just don't get it.

Is it possible that the taser training is so incredibly bad that it actually makes police officers less capable of making reasonable decisions?

And this is just one perfectly clear-cut example of the all-too-common misuse, overuse and abuse of tasers. There are an endless series of examples that are similar in nature (tasering an elderly man in his hospital bed, tasering children, etc., etc., etc.).

Bad training. Really, really bad. And who is responsible for THAT?

And if the taser training is this bad, then perhaps a moratorium might be REQUIRED to clean up the mess before these potentially-dangerous devices, which shouldn't be combined with such horrible training, are allowed back on the street (if ever).

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

One week to go...

"...MPs went one step further - threatening to introduce a motion in the House of Commons calling for a stun gun moratorium if the RCMP doesn't restrict use of the weapon by Dec. 15."

One week to go. Personally, I haven't seen anything to indicate that they've complied with the demands of Parliament. And a slight swing to the middle very likely in the new year.

tick tick tick tick tick...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Bernie, Bernie, Bernie...

Bernie Kerik, former member of the Taser Board of Directors (2002-2005), was "...engaged in an extensive crime spree, one that lasted from 1998 to 2006," according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Elliott Jacobson. (*) [LINK]

Mr. Kerik made $6.2M through TASR stock options during his tenure on Taser's Board. I'm sure he was worth every penny. You're known by the Company you keep.

Note - the only thing that I'm pointing out is the I'm-sure-perfectly-coincidental overlap in the dates. Nothing more.

* These allegations are unproven.

Some tasers more dangerous than expected

CBC News - Some tested Tasers fire stronger current than company says [LINK]

Some older tasers reportedly fired at as much as 50% more than the specified current. Taser denies that this is even physically possible.

It's even on Fox News [LINK]...

Taser's response is basically: (fingers in ears) "La la la la la la - I can't hear you - la la la."

Three other tasers didn't work at all.

Hey Taser - nice Quality Assurance (QA). LOL.

I highly recommend the full report. It is not a difficult read.

And the report clearly reveals that the scientific consensus does not include the assumption that "tasers are safe". Not even close.

Full Report [LINK]


Let me ask a few obvious questions:

1) Every two-bit dog and pony show is now ISO 9000 accredited. This means that the organization has some basic QA policies and procedures in place. Is Taser ISO 9000 accredited?

2) How about CMMI certification? Many customers won't accept life-critical systems from any company unless they've achieved the necessary process maturity to achieve CMMI certification. Is Taser even capable of achieving that?

I highly recommend that police organization institute a policy of not procuring safety-critical systems, such as "non-lethal" (correction "Less Lethal") weapons from companies that haven't even accomplished the basics of QA.

The QA certification should extend to the training too.


2009 should be an interesting year for Taser. LOL.

Monday, December 1, 2008

QOTW .... tasered while sleeping

Quote of the Week found at Truth...Not Tasers [LINK]

"The Edmonton Police Service changed its use of force policy that year to clarify that officers can no longer use tasers on people who are sleeping."

Well that's nice. And it reveals the sick truth about tasers, doesn't it?

Those sleeping subjects must be some of those "thousands" of lives saved as mentioned by the Solicitor General of Alberta [LINK]. Because if it wasn't for the police being equipped with tasers, then the police would have simply shot those sleeping people to death (???!!???!!??!!).

What a crock of sheet.


Tasers bring misuse, abuse and overuse to the point where they are a negative force in society.

In the words of the Solicitor General of Alberta: "...thousands..."

Yeah, thousands of something, but what?

Lives saved? Bull!!!!!


"Oh but we've changed the rules now! Everything is now perfect."

Bull!!!!!


Amount of evidence required to fully justify action by Parliament = N

Amount of evidence we now have on hand = ~40N (roughly)