Mission Statement - De-Spinning the Pro-Taser Propaganda

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

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

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Criticism of "Immediate cardiovascular effects of the Taser X26 conducted electrical weapon"

A friend provided a copy of The Wake Forest study entitled "Immediate cardiovascular effects of the Taser X26 conducted electrical weapon" by William Bozeman et al.

(Previous post [LINK].)

Although I'm not a medical doctor, I'm still entitled to make some common sense observations and criticisms of this study.

1) The introductory paragraphs of this study sound like an advertisement written by Taser International.

2) The introductory section fails to distinguish between the M26 taser that was introduced in 1999 and the X26 taser that was introduced in 2003. These two models have very different waveforms. The X26 waveform contains a DC pulse that is the opposite of the high frequency and low duty cycle characteristics that Taser International claimed were safety factors with the M26. Guess when the taser-associated death rate per month shows a massive step function increase?

3) As suspected, the taser hits were applied, using alligator clips, "in varying probe locations and spacings", in accordance with "the agency's" protocol. In other words, almost certainly not in locations (upper left chest) suspected to be more risky. If the study were actually attempting to address The Main Question, then they would have applied the wires to the upper left chest and just below the sternum (and various similar locations). Given the description, these taser hits may have all been applied to the trainees' backs or legs. That the report fails to provide this critical detail is an amazing oversight and makes one wonder what's going on.

4) The taser hits were 5 seconds, 2 seconds, and 1 second. Given that Prof. Savard has already found a linear relationship between exposure time and death rate, and his plot explores multiples of five seconds (5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 seconds and beyond), this Wake Forest study is filling in the extremely uninteresting end of the time axis. Boring. I wonder if they can recall who provided suggestions as to the design of this so-called study?

5) The report calls 5 second exposure "full dose". Continuing the adventure in nomenclaturism, repeated 5 second exposures (which are extremely common in that place called "the real world") would be termed "overdose". Think about it.

6) The report suggests that real world deaths might be explained by "...cormorbid conditions and substance abuse..." as compared to the healthy police trainees. There is no mention of the dart placement and exposure time differences. In the street, the taser is aimed at the subjects chest and sometimes the darts land in the worst case placement. Also exposure times in the real world are often several multiples of the 5 second "full dose". Mentioning only those factors that excuse Taser International and explicitly NOT mentioning these other two obvious differences makes me wonder WTF is going on here?

Keep in mind, I'm not a trained scientist and I can spot these flaws and limitations a mile away. And there's a bit too much cut-and-paste from Taser International.

This report raises more questions than it answers.

UPDATE: An answer... [LINK].

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