Mission Statement - De-Spinning the Pro-Taser Propaganda

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


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

Sunday, May 10, 2009

"...you cannot influence a pathologist..."

Oh yes you can. And you can get away with it for years!

Sal posted a comment on a previous post:

Protecting... [the M.E. from] ...the facts [LINK]

To save my treasured readers from having to click, here is Sal's comment in full:

Sal commented (May 9, 2009) - I dont know about the taser but you cannot influence a pathologist in the execution of his duty. If the cops had provided opinion or information to the pathologist, it would be highly improper. The coroner is the one to be given information for his inquiry. The pathologist has a duty to perform without interference.

Sal, I believe that we're in basic agreement, but you might have missed some of the background facts that prompted my post...:

Forensic pathologist Dr. Charles Lee testified that two RCMP investigators sat in on the [Dziekanski] autopsy... [LINK]

Dr. Lee ~WAS~ left with the impression that Mr. Dziekanski was tasered TWICE. This FALSE INFORMATION was not corrected.

"It's something that would have been nice to know," Dr. Lee said about the number of shocks (FIVE totaling 31s) deployed from the Taser. [LINK]

Also - Dr. John Butt, a forensic pathologist with almost 40 years’ experience who was awarded the Order of Canada in 2000 for his work, disagreed with the report by pathologist Dr. Charles Lee that failed to mention use of the Taser... Nor did Lee's autopsy report make any mention of marks on Dziekanski’s back — which were photographed by homicide detectives present at Lee’s autopsy of Dziekanski — that were consistent with the puncture marks of Taser probes. Butt said that Lee’s failure to mention the Taser and traces of it on Dziekanski’s body were significant oversights. [LINK]

I wonder if anyone bothered to conduct the test for postmortem diagnosis of ventricle fibrillation? The test was published at least as early as 1999, so perhaps it's time to start applying it to all taser-associated deaths. [LINK]

My personal opinion is based on common sense. The pathologist should be given the true facts. If those facts are later found to be incorrect, then they should be explicitly corrected as soon as possible. 'Hello? Dr. Lee. We just downloaded the taser data. It wasn't two; it was actually as many as five taser hits totaling 31 seconds. Gotta go. Good Bye.' This information would have been available to the RCMP within hours. Certainly well before Dr. Lee completed his report.

To clarify your thoughts, imagine that the taser trigger was held down until the taser batteries were as dead as the victim. Say 15 minutes continuous (for example). Should the pathologist be told about such things?

Providing true facts is not influence. It's evidence. And both pathologists (Dr. Butt and Dr. Lee) state that the true information should have been provided and considered.

Allowing false information ("two") to remain with the pathologist (no matter how it got there) is a form of influence that is somewhere between unethical and criminal.

Especially given the apparent difficulty in finding any postmortem evidence to firmly link the many taser-associated deaths to their cause. The pro-taser forces are certainly expending a great deal of effort to pin the blame on the nonsensical excuse "Excited Delirium".

My conclusion fits all of the above:

"They could have told the M.E. about the five taser shocks and asked him to keep the info to himself. But they didn't. Which is highly indicative."

Imagine the opposite situation:

If everyone initially thought that Mr. Dziekanski had been tasered five times, but the downloaded data later showed that he had been tasered only twice, then the RCMP would have tripped over themselves to rush that information out to the media and public. The RCMP spokesman would have shown up at the hastily-called news conference with a bandage on his forehead and a sprained knee from all the rushing to get the facts out.

And that's not really a speculation with which any reasonable person can disagree.

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